A food program to help Moorabool locals has been ramped up as the pandemic and mass unemployment continues.

Around 60 Bacchus Marsh businesses are either donating food or taking part in a voucher program via the ‘Bacchus Up to Pay it Forward’ charity.

The brainchild of director Judy Dattoma, it began five years ago when she was assisted through a difficult time in her life and wanted to give back.

It has since been identified by Moorabool Council’s Wellbeing plan as a way of filling a gap when other supports weren’t available.

She said food security – and bare pantries – were a huge issue right now.

“The program currently has the support of 47 local businesses that have donation boxes – and another 11 businesses that are voucher redemption sites in Darley and Bacchus Marsh,” Ms Dattoma said.

“Vouchers are provided through local family support services and churches.”

The individually-numbered $10 vouchers can be swapped for food at participating local bakeries, butchers, fruit-and-vegetable suppliers, cafes and take-aways. Businesses are later reimbursed for the vouchers.

In less than a year, more than 230 vouchers have been redeemed at Moorabool businesses.

A MEGASIZE thank you to Westpac Banking Corporation for their massive donation to BUTPIF which will greatly assist those…

Posted by Bacchus Up to Pay it Forward on Wednesday, 3 June 2020

 A $3800 grant from the Bendigo Bank has allowed the charity to buy its coin collection boxes. Westpac bank also contacted the charity to hand over $2000.

“If people see a coin collection box, please dig deep – even if it’s just 10 or 20 cents. It all makes a difference.”

Ms Dattoma said she was in the process of setting up emergency food hampers for people escaping domestic violence and was also hoping to set up a 24-hour ‘public pantry’ for people needing help outside normal hours.

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Main Image: Vanilla Rose Cafe in Grant St is among 11 Bacchus Marsh businesses that accept the charity’s voucher scheme. https://www.facebook.com/Bacchusuptopayitforward