The Urban Angels connecting and supporting the Sunshine Coast Community through nutritious food
“I always say we create all this food. But really the food is just a tool for us to create a sense of community and a sense of belonging for all of our service users as well as our volunteers. It’s so important to them, each and every one of them.” – Birgit
From a young age, Birgit has understood how food has the power to connect people during difficult times. After losing her mother at 9, Birgit’s father – who had little experience with cooking – struggled to provide meals for his 5 children. Birgit says she will never forget the sad look on her father’s face, as he pushed around tinned sausages on his plate.
To help her family, Birgit stepped up and began cooking for her father and her four siblings. From her cooking, she learnt that food makes people happy and offers an opportunity for connection. Just like it did with her family. This is something that has become a common thread throughout Birgit’s life.
“I understood very early on the importance of tasty food to make people happy”. – Birgit
After seeing an increased need for food assistance in the local community, Birgit began cooking in her own kitchen. Soon, other mothers began to help too. As word spread and need increased, they quickly outgrew the space. Turning to her children’s school for help, a once per term meal preparation group began in the school kitchen. The volunteers began cooking around 50 meals per session but unexpectantly were quickly cooking an exceptional 450 meals per session.
IFYS, a local family and youth support service, recognised the remarkable efforts of Birgit, who not only provided food but also fostered a sense of community among her service users. As a result, IFYS brought Birgit’s program into their services in 2016 and so Urban Angels was officially born.
Urban Angels is now one of Foodbank Queensland’s more than 300 Member Charities providing vital food relief to local struggling families and individuals. In their Maroochydore, purpose-built, commercial kitchen, generously donated by a selfless supporter, Birgit and the rotating 160 volunteers cook hundreds of ready-to-eat meals every day. These meals support vulnerable residents at the IFYS Housing Pathways Programs, Caravan Park and Aged Care Home residents, schools, and individuals across the Sunshine Coast. But in the last year, the need for their services has more than doubled.
“The increase in demand is just unbelievable. I’d say it must be 70%. We’re seeing people who have never had to reach out to a charity before and are so ashamed to have to.” – Birgit
As more and more individuals look for support, the Urban Angels team are working to create a safe and inclusive environment where no stigma or embarrassment is attached in reaching out to their services.
“There was a young woman who came in here with her mother, just last week. She was so embarrassed. She started crying when she came here, it was her first time. And I said, ’You know what, there are so many people who need help, that everybody needs help at some stage in their lives.’” – Birgit
Connecting with local individuals and families in need is an important pillar of the program that Urban Angels works hard to achieve. Together with the volunteers, Birgit continues to create a sense of community through the connection of food, encouraging those volunteers who deliver food, to stop, connect, and talk to those in the community most in need.
“What we are doing here is creating community for the people that we visit.” – Birgit
With the increasing cost-of-living affecting so many in her community, Birgit said she is grateful for Foodbank’s support.
“I don’t know where the world would be without Foodbank and other food donation charities. I just think the world would stop without organisations like Foodbank rescuing food. It is so important because there’s so much waste. I just think it’s critical.”- Birgit
Without your generous support of Foodbank, charities like Urban Angels would not be able to operate and feed those most in need. Birgit’s story is an example of how your donations can positively impact local communities throughout Queensland.
If you are in a position to help Foodbank Queensland provide more food across the state to support Queenslanders in need, please consider joining the fight against hunger as a regular giver.
If you are a Queensland charity, Foodbank Queensland membership is a great way to support your food relief projects, offering your organisation a reliable source of food and groceries all year round.