Urban Angels delivers nutritious meals in support of flood relief
In the heart of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll find the Urban Angels Community Kitchen, which runs a food relief program where staff and volunteers create and distribute nutritious frozen meals for people in need using food supplied by SecondBite.
The vision for Urban Angels was sparked by Birgit Sowden’s awareness of the practical importance of community and own family circumstance, after feeling the pressure to provide for her family from a very young age and realising how important it is to connect with others- especially in a time of crisis. Twelve years on from kickstarting her initiative, Birgit, her team of community focussed volunteers and chefs provide 10,000 per meals every month from the community kitchen and are delivering to Queensland households from the Sunshine Coast as far north as Gympie.
In recent times, the Queensland coastline has been rocked by not only the impact from the pandemic, but by devastating floods. With the support of the DSS, SecondBite and Coles, Urban Angels were able to continue their services to a larger cross section of the community and provide food relief to those who really need it.
Birgit stresses “it couldn’t really have come at a better time as we struggle to keep up with growing demand for our meals. There seems to be no end to the upward spiral of requests for our meal support service across the region.”
‘In recent months, financial struggle is one of the most common issues people are citing when they access our services.”
Urban Angels receive on average four new referrals for meal support each week. These referrals continue to come from a wide variety of sources including other charities, Queensland Health and word of mouth.
‘Mental and physical illnesses are equally presented as reasons for people not being able to work and their ensuing financial difficulties. We are also receiving more regular referrals to support elderly people who are close to having to go into aged care. Being able to help people stay in their homes for longer if that is their preference has always been high on our list of priorities.’
Along with the tremendous efforts projected by Birgit, Urban Angels would not be the program it is today without the help of the volunteers.
Birgit says ‘everyday I’m surrounded by these people who believe in coming together and helping our community. They all bring something unique and special whether that be their skills, energy or personality and it’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of.’
‘The stories that come from the volunteers visiting these families in need are invaluable. In some cases, these volunteers may be the only social contact these people may have for a week and knowing we are supporting them in more ways than one is what drives us in growing our program.’
‘Filling someone’s freezer when they are in crisis is like releasing a pressure valve for them…our gift of a meal gives people the time and head space to move toward solutions to their problems. We know from our own experience in the field, from other charities and from Qld Health professionals, that there are times when a readymade meal is the only form of support that will make a difference to vulnerable people in crisis.’
‘Sourcing essential food staples has been tough with the cost of living rising every day but with donations and support from SecondBite, it’s enabled us to do so much more than we could ever imagine. We’d also love to extend the love to Coles for supplying us a number of Coles gift cards. Meat has been so expensive so with these cards, we’ll be able to serve up a fresh range of meals including beef and chicken- I must say it has been a lot of fun getting creative with vegetables though!’
If you live within the Sunshine Coast region and are in need of support, you can get in touch with Urban angels or IFYS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org