Fresh help: How to pay it forward during lockdown

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Wine merchant Jagdev Singh posted an offer on Instagram on Monday to use donations from his customers to help send boxes of food to those in need during lockdown.

Within two hours of that post, his company had organised more than 200 boxes of fresh, donated ingredients to be delivered to some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Jagdev Singh from the Local Drop in East Brunswick with one of the produce boxes he will deliver to people in need.Credit:Joe Armao

Mr Singh is among a number of people around Melbourne who have mobilised since the seven-day statewide coronavirus lockdown took effect on Friday, helping those who have lost work or been affected financially by the shutdown.

His East Brunswick shop, the Local Drop, has asked people to donate $50 for each community produce box packed with locally sourced ingredients including fruit, vegetables and eggs – enough to feed two people for a week – for delivery to people who are going without during the shutdown.

“There’s no questions asked,” he said. “We’ll have boxes ready to go. We’ve received so many messages saying, ‘Can I please have a box, I’ve lost work, my barber shop is closed or I work in a restaurant, I don’t have enough money for rent.’ ”

Mr Singh said the response had been enormous since he posted the message on Instagram.

“People who are in need are saying, ‘If there’s others who are more needy than me, please let them have the box instead,’ ” he said.

People who wish to receive a produce box can send a text to 0431 611 474 to receive details of a pick-up location in Brunswick, no questions asked.

To donate, visit the Local Drop website, add a $50 community produce box to your cart, leave a message for the recipient if you like, then go to the checkout.

Mr Singh said no donation box would go to waste.

“Any excess boxes, which I don’t think there will be, will be sent to a food bank in Richmond. They rely on donations to help the vulnerable people that live around there.”

New Zealand citizen Karen and her two sons, who own a barber shop, will be among the first in line to receive a produce box on Tuesday morning. She said they had received no government assistance during lockdowns, so the food boxes would be helpful.

“Business trailed off so there was not enough money to pay the shop, no money to pay the wages, so every little bit definitely helps,” she said.

A pizza restaurant in inner Melbourne is also offering free meals to people struggling in lockdown.

Barkly’s Kitchen in Brunswick will deliver a meal to your door if you live in these suburbs: Brunswick, Brunswick West, Brunswick East, Fitzroy North and Princess Hill.

The initiative is open to people in mandatory coronavirus isolation, those at a high risk of catching coronavirus or people who cannot afford to buy food due to the lockdown.

Barkly’s Kitchen is also seeking volunteers to help prepare meals and deliver them to families in need.

To order a meal, call 03 9939 4779 before 2pm and the food will be delivered between 4pm and 6pm.

Owner Rajan Sahdev said all orders would be anonymous. “Our main focus is we don’t ask too many questions,” he said. “All we ask for is their address, and how many people.”

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