A day after receiving a rent-to-buy enquiry from not-for-profit organisation Halal Food Bank Melbourne (HFBM), Linde Territory Manager Alan Elmenawi found himself sitting with Sharfi Ruknudeen learning about the incredible things HFBM have been doing for the community.

Starting in Sydney in 2011, the need for Halal Food Bank came after existing not-for-profits approached members of the Muslim community for advice on putting together Halal friendly food boxes.

In Victoria, HFBM works with other organisations as well as directly with the Muslim community, providing food boxes to those in need including ex-refugees, the financially disadvantaged, disaster and family violence victims as well as people experiencing home displacement.

Alan and Sharfi at HFBM

In the Melbourne branch Alan met with Sharfi where he was impressed to learn:

- The HFB is 100% volunteer run with no paid positions.

- 85% of all donations go towards the food with the other 15% covering the costs associated with the warehouse lease, logistics, boxes etc.

- $250,000 in food has been distributed by HFBM to those in need since the start of COVID

- The 2022 goal is for 5,000 boxes to be distributed.

While they’d been providing to those in need for the better part of 10 years, the $250,000 in food distributed by the Melbourne HFBM branch during the COVID period represents a huge growth. It was also the catalyst for some big changes recently that the team hopes will support them in reaching their goal of distributing 5,000 food boxes each year.

The Future of Halal Food Bank Melbourne

"It was only an idea several years ago, to have our own space, order stock in pallets and have a conveyor system to pack our food hampers." - Sharfi Ruknudeen, HFBM Chairperson

 Sharfi Ruknudeen moving pallets in the HFBM warehouse

To reach their annual goal, the Melbourne HFBM recently secured a warehouse 4X bigger than their original space. This extra room means the charity can store, pack and distribute much more food than before but importantly it also means they can receive pallets of food directly to their warehouse.

This shift means volunteers no long have to travel to collect the food from stores which will allow them to spend more time packing and distributing and the savings from travel costs can go back into helping the community.

The extra space is a big step forward, but you can’t receive pallets without a forklift which is why Sharfi made the fateful decision to reach out to Linde.

“Once we had secured our warehouse, my first phone call was to Linde Material Handling to enquire about their rent to buy options for their forklifts.”

After hearing the HFBM story, Alan knew he wanted to do more to help personally but also hoped that the wider Linde team would share his passion for supporting this incredible initiative. And it didn’t take much convincing.

“While Sharfi and the team are in the process of applying for a government grant to cover the costs of racking and material handling equipment for the new warehouse, I got to work seeing what we could do as a business.”

Alan and the Linde team organised for a Baoli Electric Walkie Stacker to be delivered in March to HFBM new warehouse at no cost for 6 months while they apply for the government grant.

HFBM volunteers with their new Baoli stacker

Sharfi and the HFBM team have already seen the difference the stacker has made to their operation, “We were inundated with support from the LMH team to get an electric walkie stacker to our warehouse within a few weeks. The Baoli walkie stacker has made the receipt of a $30000 order from suppliers a 1 hour unloading task, eliminating all of our manual handling. The efficiency in receiving orders has increased 30 fold!”

Alan recently took his family along to volunteer at the food bank as a way to give back to the community.

“It was such a fantastic and rewarding experience for my family to volunteer at HFBM. It was overall a great turnout by members of the community, coming together to help those in need. These volunteers could have been anywhere else enjoying a warm Melbourne Sunday, but instead came together to individually pack 274 boxes that will reach people in need. My kids loved it and can’t wait to volunteer again next month.”

Alan and family volunteering at HFBM