By Brendan Rees
Casey’s needy will be left without hot meals as the Coronavirus pandemic forces the closure of the Cranbourne Food Truck.
The Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church, which runs the truck, officially put it services on hold from Saturday night, 21 March.
Reverend Ray McCluskey said the truck’s dedicated volunteers were devastated by the decision – but one they had to make for the sake of everyone’s health which was of “primary concern” in the wake of Covid-19 crisis.
“It’s a very, very difficult situation for us,” Rev McCluskey said, as the government announced more stringent social distancing measures to curb the virus.
Sixty volunteers would normally go out four times a week, providing up to 25 free hot meals as well as fresh fruit and vegetables and non-perishables to those in need.
Rev McCluskey said it would still try to reach out to clients through its Facebook page and blog site which contained news, messages, and videos – “so they don’t feel isolated and left out”.
“The content and quality will grow as we move along but we could be here for some months,” he said.
“It just couldn’t a situation where we’re potentially gathering people who might be very susceptible in any way and have ongoing health concerns,” he said.
“From our perspective, because the model of what we do is hot meal sit down – it made it very difficult.”
Rev McCluskey said the Food Truck, which started in 2012, would review its closure at the end of April.
He praised the “fantastic” free home delivery meal service being offered by the Casey Sikh community during the crisis but said “unfortunately at this time we don’t have the ability to do that”.
Heartbroken volunteer Chris Marsh said the truck’s closure was still sinking in.
“It literally changes overnight; I’ve had a few days to get used to it but I’m still not there yet,” she said.
“You worry about those people and how they’re surviving. Unfortunately we’re not in a position to help them at the moment.”
Meanwhile, the church had also closed its doors to the public – with worship services being uploaded to Facebook as it responds to the pandemic gripping the world.