Maitland will host its own drop-off point for a state-wide food drive for farmers organised by police, firefighters and the State Emergency Service.
Residents can take groceries and non-perishable food items to the Lower Hunter Fire Control Centre (110 Mt Vincent Road, East Maitland) to help drought-stricken farmers in need.
Until this year emergency service agencies combined for the former Stuff Your Chopper challenge, which involved filling helicopters with food for disadvantaged families at Christmas.
But this year the NSW Police Force, Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and State Emergency Service will come together to help ‘Feed a Farmer’.
As paddocks turn to dust, drought-stricken farmers and their families across the state will receive groceries and other much needed items donated to emergency service agencies over the next two months.
The items will then be donated to Foodbank NSW & ACT and delivered to those in need.
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Feed a Farmer was launched by Deputy Commissioner Regional Field Operations Gary Worboys, Police Minister Troy Grant and representatives from Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service on Friday.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said the initiative was something all emergency services – with assistance of the community – could do to help farmers hit hard by drought.
“We all know farmers are tough, resilient and pride themselves on standing on their own two feet, but sometimes even the toughest need help,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
Sometimes even the toughest need help.Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys
“According to the Combined Drought Indicator 98.3 per cent of the state is experiencing drought, and as a community based organisation, we need to do what we can to help provide some relief.
“Farmers are a vital part of our lives, and ‘Feed a Farmer’ is an opportunity for emergency services to come together with the community to help ease the hardship caused by drought.”
Mr Grant said it was a chance for emergency services to give back to regional and rural communities.
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“A lot of farmers are doing it really tough right now and that means many are choosing to feed their stock first before putting food on their own table,” Minister Grant said.
“It makes me very proud to see our emergency services joining forces today to provide some small relief to those in need right now. This is the Australian way, we take care of our mates.
“I encourage everyone to get behind ‘Feed a Farmer’ and please make a food-donation – remember any donation can make a really big difference for farmers across the state.”
Foodbank is a non-profit organisation established in 1992, and acts as a pantry to charities and community groups that provide food to those in need.
Across NSW and the ACT, Foodbank helps more than 167,000 people each month and provides over 1.7 million meals for families in need.
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Foodbank NSW and ACT CEO Gerry Andersen, said it was great to see all the emergency services coming together to support those who need it most.
“No matter how big or how small, any donation will make a difference to farmers and their families,” Mr Andersen said.
“Feed a Farmer is about lending a helping hand and the donations collected will be distributed to where they are most needed.”
Collections for Feed a Farmer will be accepted until Tuesday, December 4 and emergency services are asking the community to support this initiative by dropping any food or necessities to participating locations during business hours Monday – Friday.