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You may not realise it, but hunger is growing to crisis proportions in Australia, and that includes rural, regional and remote Australia.
The annual Foodbank Hunger Report recently revealed that a whopping one in six Australians has experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months. Of these, half – approximately 2 million people – are seeking food relief from charities. These are not just people living rough on the streets but low income families, the elderly, students and other marginalised groups in the community. They are also rural, regional and remote families, with approximately one third of the food donations delivered via the Foodbank network now going to rural Australia.
Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, operating on a scale that makes us crucial to the work of the front line charities that are feeding people in need. We provide 60 million meals a year (166 000 meals a day!) to more than 2400 charities around the country, accounting for 75% of the food distributed by food rescue organisations nation-wide.
Foodbank is also the largest supporter of school breakfast programs in Australia, providing food for 1500 schools nationally (both directly and via programs run by other organisations). We provide more than 205 000 school breakfasts a week thanks to this initiative, which assists more than 100 000 students across Australia.
Our aim is a simple one: to deliver the most food to the most Australians in need in the most efficient way. Whilst the aim is simple, the challenge of sourcing, transporting, warehousing and distributing more than 33 million kilograms of food and groceries across the country each and every year is anything but simple.
That’s why we are so grateful for the support of you, our farmers, and every person and organisation involved in your individual supply chains, for your ongoing generosity and support.
But we need more help. For many working families, adequate and nutritious food has become a luxury as opposed to a necessity, and that particularly applies to meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. Whilst our biggest public initiative of the year – the Foodbank Food Fight – is taking place right throughout the month of August, it only goes some way to increasing the amount of food we have on offer.
We would love to hear from more farmers who might have surplus produce that you would like to donate to an incredibly worthwhile cause. In many instances, we already have established relationships with your processors (particularly in the grains sector), so it could be as simple as asking them to allocate a small percentage of your commodity to Foodbank hunger relief, or you are most welcome to contact us directly to discuss other options. The more farmers we have involved, the fewer hungry people our charities have to turn away (which is sadly approximately 43 000 people a month at present).
If you would like to donate grain, meat, or fruit and vegetables, please don’t hesitate to contact Foodbank Australia on (02) 98874144 or email us. In the interim, for the month of August, you can help by purchasing Food Fight products from your nearest Woolworths store. For other ways to assist us, such as volunteering and running food drives, please visit our website.
Thank you in advance for your assistance, and we look forward to working even more closely with the farming community in the months ahead.
Brianna Casey is the Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank Australia. Brianna has previously held leadership roles with NSW Farmers and the Queensland Farmers' Federation.