I RECENTLY started volunteering with Manna Inc, an incredible organisation devoted to helping the needs of the less fortunate.
The primary service of Manna Inc is a six-day-a-week food service that it runs out of Weld Park, on the corner of Newcastle and Stirling streets.
That’s what made me get involved; walking to my car from our Stirling Street office every day and seeing the plight that so many people in my own city are living in.
The decision to help was firmed with our recent trip to the US, where the homeless on the streets of San Francisco at times outnumbered the passers-by. This problem was on my own door-step and procrastinating was no longer acceptable.
That said, my role is a pretty easy one compared to the massive amount of work that some of the many volunteers pump into Manna.
Every Monday, I help prepare the meals in the East Victoria Park kitchen, before we load up the truck and drive into Weld Park, where we’re met by about 200 hungry mouths.
I then wander down after work on Wednesdays.
In the short time I’ve been there, something has stood out to me.
Backpackers. Guys and girls, alike.
They barely care to disguise themselves.
Wearing summer-suitable clothing of singlets and shorts – a luxury their fellow line members can’t always afford – they shuffle among the homeless and the truly needy and take the meals with a “Chrrs”.
As one of the new kids on the block, I didn’t feel it was my place to say anything and, sometimes, it’s difficult to discern between the rorters and the needy. The other aspect is that Manna doesn’t mind feeding those who are after a meal, so long as those in need receive one first.
It’s better than the food going to waste.
But the part that surprised me was the apparent disregard for those the food was truly meant for. What makes someone think, “I had enough money to travel halfway around the world, but it’s ok for me to take food meant for people who truly can’t afford it”?!
If you’re out of money, call home and get more sent through. That’s another luxury most of the Weld Park crew don’t always have. Many, I’m sure, don’t even have anyone they could call to talk to, let alone ask for money.
Those waiting their turn, that’s fine. Those who aren’t, should be ashamed of themselves.
They should be. But, they won’t be.
Anyway, check out this story by Irish newspaper, Irish Echo. It wraps it up nicely:
Young Irish lining up for free meals at Perth soup kitchen
An Irish welfare group in Perth says it has “delving to do” following reports Irish nationals are queuing for food at a Northbridge soup kitchen.
Manna Inc, which serves 200 meals a night six nights a week from a soup kitchen at Weld Park, is seeing more backpackers joining their queues.
EDIT: I just want to stress that, as Bev says in the article, Manna Inc doesn’t mind feeding anyone who wants to be fed, so long as there are leftovers and the needy are fed first. It’s better than the food going to waste!
What do you think? Is it ok for backpackers to be lining up for food meant for the needy? Or do you have another take on it? Feel free to leave a comment below.