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WITH a generous donation from an anonymous local business owner, a group of local figures have united to create the Greater Hamilton, Food Store.

Based out of the Uniting Church, the program stores and produces nutritional and healthy meals for vulnerable members of the Hamilton community.

Volunteer, Tony ‘Gilly’ MacGillivray and reverend, Angie Griffin organised the program after they were approached by an anonymous local looking to make a difference.

“We were approached by businessman from the district who offered to donate some money to helping local people during the COVID-19 pandemic and wasn’t sure how to do so,” Mr MacGillivray said.

“He asked if I would work with him and help.

“From there, we started brainstorming and deciding what the best and most efficient way to reach people in the community was, so we decided to create meals for people who need it most in our community and district.”

Last week the team, comprised of chefs and volunteers from around the district, made over 300 meals and sent 50 meals to Balmoral and Macarthur.

“There is a small group of us who coordinate our time to cooking the food and distributing the goods and the money donated was used to buy fresh and nutritious ingredients,” Mr MacGillivray said.

Meals such as marinated chicken with chat potatoes and vegetables, shepherd’s pie with mash and green peas, tuna bake, and chicken curry and rice are among some of the options.

“This is creating a positive vibe for the district and for people who need the extra bit of support in these tough times, at least they know they can get some comfort from having a hot meal at home on a cold night,” Mr MacGillivray said.

“We made 300 meals (last) week that went in the freezer and those meals will be given to people in the next couple of weeks and once they are gone, we will make more.”

Through the donation of two freezers, the meals have been frozen and specifically set aside for the project.

“This a project that reaches out to the whole community and surrounding towns,” Mr MacGillivray said.

The meals can be accessed through organisations such as Senior Citizens, St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army groups along with many others.

“This isn’t a program that is designed for just people of the Uniting Church, but it is a program to help everyone,” Mr MacGillivray said.

“There are no losers in this project, people like me that might be in limbo or some chefs out of work can come and do some good and help people.

“I think with our community, there are people that will come through this and survive and cope, but there lots of people who may struggle, who have lost their job.

“People might not have family around them so they might call on us for some comfort and support.

“Supporting locals is so important at any time but more so now, there is an unknown still ahead of us, but we are building a stronger community.

“Hamilton has been so good to us so it’s time to give some good to Hamilton.”

Ms Griffin said the Food Store program was a simple way for people to donate their time and help others in the community.

“We are all very capable of simple things that in your eyes might seem small, however in other eyes could save them in tough times,” she said.

“We thank Fushy and Mick (Jack and Jude), Tim and Jess (Café Gray), Lisa, Gilly, Peter, Roger and the Uniting Church Crew.”

Group representatives who would like to assist can contact project coordinator, Peter Roberts on 0408 255 488.

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