Food prices biting

Charlie Ricciardo and PortCare volunteer Ervina Ng relishing the Citizenship Award outside their Op shop.

THE rising cost of food, shortages on supermarket shelves and rent stress are biting families, putting more demand on charities such as Fremantle’s PortCare.

PortCare was a recent recipient of a Fremantle Active Citizenship Award, in part for its response to the Covid outbreak, and head Charlie Ricciardo says there’s no letting up yet with the disruption of supply chains.

“We’re certainly seeing more people; this week we’ve seen a lot of people, more than normal.

“Even people just getting their basics like our complementary bread and fruit and veg.”

Mr Ricciardo says they haven’t yet seen the flow-on pain from record petrol prices, but expects it will be felt soon.

Mobilised

Mr Riccardo said many in the community, especially the elderly, were scared and uncertain as the pandemic unfolded. 

“Our team quickly mobilised and prepared meals which were then given out to those in need in hostels, refuges, on the streets in and around Fremantle. We stayed open and continued to operate because our community needed us,” he said.  

Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge meets PortCare volunteers after their award win.

PortCare collects food from Coles and SecondBite (which collects surplus food and donates it to charities) to make free meals for those in need. 

Mr Ricciardo says PortCare prides itself on helping people change their lives and reassuring those in need they can get help to become self-sufficient. 

Mr Ricciardo, who’s led the charity for 21 years, said he was overwhelmed and honoured to receive the citizenship award. 

“It was really good recognition of what we do,” he said.

The charity holds free, volunteer-run lunches every Friday from 12-1:30pm for people who needing a feed or opportunity to bond with others, while its op shop sells household items, furniture and clothing much cheaper than their retail cost.  

When announcing the award, Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said under Mr Ricciardo’s leadership they’d shown a commitment to helping people in a jam get back on their feet.

“These are all vital services to assist those on low incomes to purchase essential supplies,” Ms Fitzhardinge said. 

PortCare also offers work experience and volunteering opportunities such as sorting donations, helping with deliveries, stocking shelves or working the till.  

Mr Ricciardo says PortCare has also set up a fruit and vegetable collection point which runs every Friday at Kwinana. 

by ELIZABETH TAN

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