PAYCE Foundation donated food van hits the road

A food van donated by the PAYCE Foundation to the Salvation Army has hit the road in Coffs Harbour to help people in need.

First stop was the Coffs Farmers Market.

The PAYCE Foundation has had a long association with the Salvation Army and its local Pastor Major Andrew van Gaalen.

“It’s a ripper of a van, in the style of the classic Jet Stream design, and is a fantastic donation,” Andrew told local newspaper News Of The Area.

With a dream of having the van out every day of the week at targeted locations of known need, the van is starting off with its Farmers Market gig on Thursdays and Friday nights at The Jetty.

“There’s a lot of people down at The Jetty who, for a variety of reasons, are currently homeless,” said Andrew.

“We will start off with van visits on Friday evenings so they can go into the weekend with a warm hearty meal inside them,” he said.

“Some people are without a home because they like that lifestyle, but there’s a whole new cohort who cannot afford rent prices and the high cost of living.

“They don’t like the lifestyle, but for some there is a sense of shame and embarrassment around accessing services.

“Some rents are high, people have been released from their tenancies, all these people who find themselves in a disadvantaged position have different reasons for being there, but one thing they all have in common is that they are homeless,” said Andrew.

The way the food service works is through a chain of links.

Coffs Harbour Salvos has close connections with the Adele House rehabilitation centre in Bucca which is funded by the PAYCE Foundation.

“They have a beautiful vegie garden of freshly growing produce, which is harvested for chef Neville and his team to cook up into meals.

“We are serving the meals as well as cooking onboard the van.”

Kitted out with a deep fryer, grill, pie warmer, fridges, microwave and a coffee machine, the van is a kitchen-on-the-go.

“We are hoping to purchase rice cookers and a soup cooker,” he said.

Drivers of the food van project, Benn and Andy, with a long connection to Coffs Salvos, are in charge of getting the vehicle to its various vantage points.

“Being seen is an important part of this launch,” said Andrew.

“Getting the word out that the Salvos food van is now serving meals to the homeless means setting up in public places near where homeless people frequent; they can see us and we’re there for them.”

There’s a roster of volunteers already signed up to support the service.

To grow the offering Coffs Salvation Army needs more volunteers not only to serve meals but also to drive the van.

“We will need drivers of vehicles with a two-tonne towing capacity,” said Andrew.

To support the Salvos food van the business community of Coffs Harbour is being asked to connect with Andrew Van Gaalen.

“We are seeking a main sponsor for the van, on-going funding, donations and we always welcome help-in-kind from trades and business partners in the city.

“To achieve our dream of a daily/nightly service, the van requires a lot of personnel,” said Andrew.

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