Joining forces to help those in need

15th May 2020 | Eativity editors

The economic impact of COVID-19 on Australian lives is yet to be fully realised, and it’s a problem the government is attempting to address with schemes such as JobKeeper.

But one group of people that’s not on the governments to-do list when it comes to providing financial support is asylum seekers – many of whom are not eligible to work or to receive government payments, relying instead on the generosity of strangers.

Their plight is one that has been taken up by food delivery service EASI and third generation Australian farmer, Catherine Velisha, of Velisha Farms.

The two businesses originally teamed up to deliver fresh and takeaway food to Australian households as social isolation took hold and increasing wait times for fresh food delivery grew, but both were concerned by the lack of assistance for those not able to avail themselves of government economic assistance. So they decided to step into the breach and deliver free fresh food to asylum seekers who were doing it tough.

Doing good is fun: volunteers pack fresh produce.

Working with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Melbourne, EASI and Velisha Farms will be donating 50 Harvest boxes of fresh food to ASRC, who will then be using their network of volunteers to distribute food to individual houses.

“We felt a responsibility as a food delivery service to help feed those in need during this difficult period,” says Kitty Lu, National Account Manager at EASI, which launched in Australia in 2014. “There are a lot of groups that need help, and EASI is doing what it can to help those not eligible for government assistance.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Catherine Velisha, who employs many refugees, provides free English classes for them and has a career promotion system in place for her workforce.

“I’m a third-generation farmer but also third-generation migrant myself,” she says. “Originally, we conceived of this idea to provide fresh food to people’s doors. But it’s important, as business leaders and citizens, that in the process of going about our daily lives we don’t let people fall through the cracks.”

Velisha fresh celery ready to go.

ASRC CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis hopes the move will encourage the same spirit of giving in other local businesses and Australian citizens: “It’s great to have Australia businesses helping to support some of Australia’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are precluded from paid work and government assistance,” he says.

The good news is that consumers in Melbourne who want to support asylum seekers can do so in an ongoing way by ordering Harvest boxes from the EASI app and donating an extra $5 on top of their order. EASI will donate any extra money sent on top of orders directly to the ASRC and encourages other businesses to set up similar schemes.

“This is a very easy way to help someone in need and to get some great fresh food delivered to your door,” Lu says.