As a part of Operation COVID-19 Assist, ADF personnel are supporting non-government organisations in Sydney to prepare and distribute food care packages to those in need.
CAPTION: Army personnel and OzHarvest volunteers prepare dry and fresh food hampers in the OzHarvest warehouse at Alexandria, Sydney, a part of Operation COVID-19 Assist. Story by Captain Martin Hadley. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.
A number of ADF Joint Task Group 629.1 members helped OzHarvest staff and volunteers pack food hampers in their warehouse in Alexandria.
OzHarvest Hamper Program Manager Shannon Richardson said that the ADF, NSW Police and emergency services were helping OzHarvest to scale up the volume of their hamper deliveries as demand grows.
“Before COVID we were delivering around 2000 parcels each week. This has now doubled and continues to grow,” Ms Richardson said.
“The hampers are part of the government-funded food program and are sent to charities and vulnerable people across greater Sydney, though most of these will go to communities in Western Sydney who are experiencing difficulty in lockdown.”
Ms Richardson said because of COVID-19 restrictions the number of volunteers available had diminished.
“Because of the huge scale up in the operation we have asked the ADF to help prepare the hampers, with the goal of packing as many as we possibly can,” Ms Richardson said.
Seaman Michael Gleeson said he was happy to be helping.
“I think it is great that the ADF can come down to help with packaging up both dry and fresh food into these hampers,” Seaman Gleeson said.
“We are working closely with volunteers and staff from OzHarvest and getting through a high volume of hampers, which will go out to a lot of people who really need it.”
The NSW Government has requested an extra 300 ADF personnel on top of the 250 who are currently assisting with airport and hotel quarantine programs.
They are performing support tasks to assist NSW Health and the NSW Police, from supporting their COVID-19 welfare and compliance monitoring to assisting with contact tracing and vaccinations at vaccination centres.