Heritage House co-ordinator Tracy Ryan dishes up dessert to John Farmer.
Heritage House co-ordinator Tracy Ryan dishes up dessert to John Farmer.

Soup kitchen put hope on the menu

A SALAD roll, a good cuppa and some fresh company is all it takes to put a smile on Joe Farmer’s face when he visits the Heritage House soup kitchen every Tuesday.

Mr Farmer, 59, is one of dozens who rely on the volunteers to stop the rumbling in his stomach.

A gardener, cleaner and odd-job man, Mr Farmer has been going to the soup kitchen for the past four weeks while he looks for work.

“It’s pretty hard to get a job around here,” he said.

Mr Farmer was forced to leave his job at a station in western Queensland after doctors advised him to return to Bundaberg.

“Money mostly goes to paying bills at the moment,” he said.

“It’s gotten harder to stretch it. They are putting the price of things up so bloody quickly.”

Heritage House is just one of many soup kitchens around the Bundaberg district that help dozens of homeless, disabled or underprivileged people like Mr Farmer.

Without them, he is not sure what he would do.

“Suffer, I guess,” he said.

When the NewsMail visited the soup kitchen yesterday, dozens of people, including a family with three children, were at Heritage House to take advantage of the free food.

Soup kitchen co-ordinator Tracy Ryan said volunteers would see about 40 people each week and that number had been gradually rising.

“Some of those coming in are very proud and don’t like asking for help, but they are always appreciative,” she said.

In the lead-up to Christmas, the group expects to see more and more people visit the kitchen.

“We normally get between 60 and 70 people around Christmas time,” she said.

Eight volunteers work at the kitchen to provide lunch on Tuesdays and dinner on Thursdays.

“We try to give a good, healthy and balanced meal to provide as much nutrition as possible,” she said.

Most of the food served at the soup kitchen is donated by Bundaberg businesses.

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