ACON has closed its Larder groceries service and will halve the number of free meal services available at its Elizabeth St headquarters from the end of March.

ACON and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) rescued the Luncheon Club from closure due to lack of funds in 2008, but NSW Health only agreed to provide ACON with funding to run the club for another 12 months if it became a health promotion program focusing on case management and referral to HIV services and mental health and drug and alcohol services.

That funding ended in 2009. ACON and BGF had been funding the program out of their own pockets ever since, along with the two meal services ACON provided through the Positive Living Centre.

ACON CEO Nick Parkhill said the Luncheon Club formally ended when ACON moved to Elizabeth St, but the organisation continued to provide four meals a week and food assistance to help clients transition while it finished amalgamating all its health promotion services for HIV positive people.

A single delivery model will be in place by March 30.

“The transition process has been very successful, with a significant increase in client referrals to health and social support services recorded in the period,” Parkhill said.

Larder and Luncheon Club clients will be referred to nearby organisations that receive government funding to provide free meal and food services.

“These agencies are all better placed to provide these services than ACON, not least because they’re specifically funded to do so and we’re not,” Parkhill said. “Our funder is very clear that our grant funding is not provided for meal and food assistance program delivery.”

However, Parkhill said ACON would continue to provide breakfast on Tuesdays and lunch on Fridays out of its existing funding.

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