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Dad struggles coronavirus pandemic one item he can’t live without no meat no toilet paper Melbourne

A father-of-four struggling to feed his family has documented his lockdown struggles in Melbourne through a series of photographs at his local supermarkets. 

Val Athanassiou began taking pictures of stripped supermarket shelves during Victoria’s initial lockdown in March. 

Images showed nothing but a handful of meat scattered across the empty aisles in the Coles and Woolworths. 

Now, after the state was plunged back into Stage 4 lockdown, the dad has taken similar pictures to show his family’s struggles. 

Items like toilet paper, pasta and pasta sauce have been taken out by panic buyers but Mr Athanassiou says he can always get his hands on Coles wholemeal organic pasta, which his children love. 

He told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Toilet paper is well and truly gone again. 

‘We buy the 15 or 20 pack when it’s available and it generally lasts us a couple of weeks. 

‘We have two older children, 16 and 13, that we can communicate the effective bottom wiping strategy to but the six-year-old and the seven-year-old, well it’s not that easy.’

Victoria reported its highest daily total of COVID-19 infections on Wednesday with 725 new cases and 15 deaths. 

Premier Dan Andrews introduced Stage 4 restrictions and stay-at-home orders this week. Only one person per household is allowed to go out to shop once each day, within a 5km radius.

Mr Athanassiou says he has four stores he can visit and said he has to shop in a circular pattern because Coles and Woolworths have often run out of meat, toilet paper, pasta and pasta sauce, so he has to go to IGA or Aldi afterwards to look for meat. 

He has been documenting his shopping trips since March to try and show his children how to stay positive throughout the experience and teach them to make the best with what they’ve got and ‘that this too shall pass’. 

The frugal father said his mother taught me how to stretch out a meal and the skill is coming in handy. 

He is careful with his budgeting as he had to dip into his superannuation to help look after his family.

‘Thank goodness I had relatively good training thanks to Mum, in making the meals stretch, it’s just a matter of Maths and science. A couple of chicken breast fillets will feed four kids if I load it up with sauce and vegetables.’

His wife Mel works in retail and is still driving to work, Mr Athanassiou said the fluctuating petrol prices are a concern and his wife is conservative when she fills up.

‘She’s called me and said the petrol light is orange, it’s $1.40 do I just risk it? It plays mind games with families out there, especially ones who are completely and utterly out of work. It’s amazing how when you get down to your last dollar, that 10 cents can make a real difference.’  

Mr Athanassiou is surprisingly upbeat and said despite the coronavirus lockdown being ‘one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced’ the most important thing now is he is surrounded by family.   

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