The total number of meals prepared in the Parliament House kitchens for people most in need during the COVID-19 emergency has increased to several thousand per week.

“In the fortnight since this initiative began, Parliament’s catering team has really ramped up their efforts to get meals ready and meet the demand from charitable organisations supporting our most vulnerable community members,” Legislative Council President Shaun Leane said.

Under this initiative the Victorian Parliament is partnering with The Salvation Army, The Lazarus Centre, St Peter’s Eastern Hill Anglican Church, Heaven at the Hill social enterprise, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, Melbourne City Mission, St Vincent de Paul Society and St Mary’s House of Welcome.

“The Speaker and I were keen to support the organisations that are doing such great work in our community during this emergency. Providing meals through the Parliament House kitchens was a practical way of helping these charities and the people they assist,” Mr Leane said.

Five parliamentary catering staff have been supplemented by our regular agency staff to provide continuing work for them in the Parliament House kitchens. Cleaning contractors have also been able to get additional work and local suppliers are being used.

“The cancellation of scheduled activities and events due to COVID-19 has resulted in Parliament saving funds this financial year so we have re-invested some of this funding in the meals initiative,” Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks said.

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to this partnership with charitable organisations, and everyone working on it is extremely proud of what they are achieving,” Mr Brooks said.

Crown Resorts donated nine tonnes of food to the meals program.

Other Australian parliaments and a local council have approached the Victorian Parliament to find out how to set up something similar, with the South Australian Parliament last week joining in.

“It’s a wonderful example of the community working together to support people who are facing hardship during this emergency,” Mr Leane said.

“We’re glad to have started this initiative in partnership with a range of charities and it’s good to see that it’s inspiring others to get involved,” Mr Brooks added.