Food and grocery industry encouraged to donate food as need escalates

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 28th January 2009

While the stockmarket continues to head toward the floor the need for food relief has gone through the roof.

Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, Foodbank Australia, is discovering just how much impact the Wall Street crash has had on some here in Australia.

“We can’t remember our warehouses being so empty and the need for food relief being so high,” Foodbank Australia’s CEO, Bronwyn Boekenstein, advised. “There’s no doubt that the economic downturn has significantly impacted the number of Australians suffering from hunger.”

Foodbank logo

Last year, Foodbank distributed 16 million kilos of food, which made 20 million meals and helped feed around 50,000 people a day. Foodbank estimates it would need five times that amount to meet the current need.

Last month, Foodbank launched a thought provoking national awareness campaign to draw much needed attention to the problem of hunger, with Australian icon and Foodbank Champion Ernie Dingo supporting the cause and calling on all Australians to “stop hunger in our backyard”.

“In one of the richest economies in the world it’s difficult to imagine two million people not having enough to eat, and it’s an absolute disgrace that over one million children go to school without breakfast everyday or go to bed without dinner every night,” said Ernie Dingo. “Kids who go hungry suffer from anxiety as well as diminished capacity to learn.”

A number of food companies have shown their support for the cause, with last year’s Foodbank awards honouring those who have provided the greatest assistance. A case in point is the current collaboration between numerous grocery industry members in helping to produce some of the 85 tonnes of pasta and pasta sauce required every month.

The Partnership Team
Thanks to the generosity of Rinoldi, supported by flour donations from Manildra, Foodbank’s supply of pasta is increasing and pasta sauce is now needed to complete the meal. With Simplot’s assistance, Foodbank developed a collaborative donor team to spread the ‘cost’ of producing a supply of Leggo’s Spaghetti Sauce with Beef. A can of Leggo’s sauce consists of beef trim, tomato paste, onions, flavouring, caramel, starch, herbs, seasoning, sugar, and the cans and cartons into which the sauce is packed. Eleven companies generously agreed to donate one of each of these ingredients, meaning Foodbank has a supply of pasta sauce.
SIMPLOT donated the factory conversion and labelling facilities, freight from their Echuca plant to Foodbank’s Melbourne warehouse, and co-ordinated donations of all other donors
UNILEVER AUSTRALASIA donated the tomato paste
FRESH EXCHANGE donated the onions and MONAGHANS donated their peeling
GIVAUDAN donated flavourings
PENFORD donated the starch
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOURS & FRANGRANCES donated seasonings
MANILDRA donated the sugar
IMPRESS donated 53,000 cans
LABELMAKERS donated the labels
AMCOR FIBRE donated the cartons
MAUNSELL AECOM provided funding for the beef trim, caramel and minor ingredients
TOLL GROUP donated transport to freight the finished sauce to Foodbank warehouses around the country

The First Run
In December 2008, after months of planning, 21 tonnes of Leggo’s pasta sauce rolled off the Simplot production line at Echuca, and this week a further 21 tonnes was produced to complete the project.

The Result
This initiative provides Foodbank with a supply of one of its top eight most needed staple foods, pasta sauce and helps the many who are struggling to feed themselves/families with the opportunity to enjoy the comfort of a good meal.

Foodbank is encouraging businesses and individuals to give time or money and to help spread the word. But most of all Foodbank needs the food and grocery industry to donate food to ensure that Australian families in need have food on the table.

The type of foods in highest demand include: fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, milk and other dairy foods, breakfast cereal, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, baked beans, canned meat and fish. Tea, coffee, sugar, jam, peanut butter and spreads are also needed.

To participate in Foodbank’s campaign or for additional information please visit www.foodbank.com.au.