The Delta strain of COVID-19 hit Canberra in August and the ACT health sent the territory into lockdown on 13 August 2021. This meant that everyone needed to stay home, initially for two weeks, and get tested if they felt like they had any of the symptoms.

This situation, coupled with financial difficulties, left a growing number in the community struggling for essentials. Many community conscious organisations sprung into action to provide meals and food delivery services.

Two weeks later, on 2 September, District Governor Leo Farrelly sent an email that started a chain of activity throughout ACT Rotary clubs. He proposed, ‘consideration of either personal support by individuals or financial support from clubs, for feeding ACT families who have run out of resources to put food on their table’.

Many Rotary Clubs sprung into action with support, including the Rotary Club of Hall.

After some discussion, the club decided to support several organisations providing food to those in need, electing to split a donation of $4,000 between four organisations providing pre-made meals and allocated a further $2,000 to be used to purchase fresh produce from the club’s Capital Region Farmers’ Market. This meant that we could immediately provide some financial relief to the organisations making pre-made meals, and we could also support our stallholder family.

Donating to Helping Hands ACT
Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh, HelpingACT president Mohammed Ali, Rotary Club of Hall’s Mainul Haque and ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne. (Picture: Megan Doherty).

Club members purchased fresh produce from our market weekly for distribution to needy in the community by HelpingACT.

On saturday the 2nd of September, our Rotarian shopping team were joined by Nazmul Hassan who created a free Halal hot meal service to feed Afghan evacuees who recently arrived in Canberra. Sixty food hampers were packed and delivered to newly arrived Afghan evacuees in Canberra, thanks to the local charity HelpingACT.

Community Committee Chair, Jonathan and club member Mainul purchased food at the Farmers Market for Helping ACT (and to a lesser extent for Nazmul Hassan) over 5 weeks. The club also collected generous donations of meat from Chris and Greg Stuart and many of the stallholders have been generous with their pricing.  

‘Of the original $7,000 the club allocated to help stick community larders, we have $240 remaining. We will have a chat to Mohammed Ali (Helping ACT) about future needs,’ stated Jonathan, the Rotary Club of Halll’s Community Committee Chair.

They eased restrictions on 15 October. Then on the 28th, further restrictions meant no masks outside and retails stores in the capital could reopen.