Bev Woolhouse says there were so many vehicles lining up for food boxes at her Perth charity last week that she had to go out on the street and direct traffic, ABC News reports.
The chief executive of The Pantry in Wangara said demand for the food boxes had spiralled steadily upward since the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020, and skyrocketed in the past few months.
The problem is, more recently, the availability of food to fill the boxes is drying up.
"People actually want to eat fruit and veggies," she said.
"And when there's a shortage of that we're actually having to give them a lot of dry goods, or processed foods or sugary foods, just to try and give them something.
"And that never feels satisfying because I feel like I'm just sort of letting them down in what they actually need."
Ms Woolhouse says the food used in The Pantry's charity boxes generally comes from other non-profits that collect surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants.
However, she said issues with supply chains and a shortage of fruit pickers to process "seconds" had reduced the amount of food available to be shared around.
Ms Woolhouse said an increase in the number of small charities opening up to provide food boxes — a response to increased demand — had also spread the amount of food over a larger number of services.
Although she says The Pantry receives sufficient financial donations to continue operating, she is evaluating the future of the volunteer-run service because she feels the resources could be better consolidated by a bigger charity.
Bev Woolhouse says fruit and vegetables are the main items her clients are looking for, but they are in increasingly short supply.(ABC News: Fletcher Yeung)