Foodbank thanks donors for disaster relief

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 28th February 2011

Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, had its resources put to the test in recent months in the face of the natural disasters in Queensland and Victoria.However, the charity said that outstanding support from food and grocery industry partners played a valuable role in the response effort, ensuring food and other household supplies were and continue to be available wherever and whenever they are most needed.

Only days into the New Year, a call for help was made to Foodbank’s industry donors in response to the devastating floods in Queensland. In line with lessons learned from previous disasters such as Cyclone Larry and the Black Saturday bushfires, the request was for specific items to be received in staged deliveries. The response was immediate and overwhelming, with all the companies approached offering unreserved assistance.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the food and grocery companies. To date, the commitments have totalled 1,500 pallet loads of product valued at over $5.5 million which, if delivered together, would require a convoy of 75 trucks,” said John Webster, CEO of Foodbank Australia.

Foodbank thanked their national donors for their generous support during the recent disasters.

“Our heartfelt thanks to the food and grocery companies for your truly exceptional support – you should feel immense pride for the selfless assistance you have shown for those in need. The current crises may have brought out the worst in Mother Nature but they have certainly brought out the very best in Australian spirit – nowhere is this better reflected than through your help,” said Webster.

Foodbank’s donors include Campbell Arnott’s, Cerebos, Coca-Cola Amatil, Ferrero, Fonterra, George Weston Foods, Goodman Fielder, Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Manassen Foods, McCain, Mars Food Australia, Menora Foods, National Foods, Nestlé, Orgran, Oriental Merchant, P&G, PZ Cussons, Rinoldi Pasta, Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company, Sara Lee, Schweppes, Simplot Australia, SPC Ardmona, Smith’s Snackfood Company, Stuart Alexander, Sugar Australia, Sunbeam, SunRice, Unilever and Valcorp.

Donations received from the food companies to date include:
· 258 pallets of breakfast cereal
· 154 pallets of long life milk
· 253 pallets of pasta, noodles, rice and sauces
· 153 pallets of canned fruit, vegetables and meals
· 89 pallets of bread, biscuits & spreads plus additional bread deliveries every day
· 64 pallets of tea, coffee and sugar
· 120 pallets of snack foods
· 59 pallets of drinks
· 331 pallets of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hygiene, nappies and toilet paper.

Further assistance was provided to Foodbank by Toll and others in the form of warehousing and trucking. In addition companies sent teams of staff volunteers to help out in Foodbank warehouses around the country.

Until the rising flood waters threatened its own Brisbane warehouse, Foodbank Queensland disseminated food and other essential items to welfare agencies in the country areas of Queensland first affected by floods. These supplies were aimed at the second wave of assistance for flood victims returning to their devastated homes, to help them begin the cleanup process.

With the arrival of the floods in Brisbane, the distribution focus turned closer to home where agencies such as the Salvation Army knew they could rely on Foodbank for supplies for the suburban emergency evacuation centres.

“Foodbank has been excellent and definitely the best way to get supplies because we know we can source what we need when we need it,” said Major Bryce Davies from the Salvation Army at the time.

With the advent of floods in Victoria, some of the donated product was diverted to VicRelief Foodbank as it swung into action as part of the Victorian State Government’s State Emergency Plan response team. Emergency relief packs of food, water and personal hygiene products (enough to support a person/household for up to five days) were packed and distributed to over 1500 families living in the worst of regional Victoria’s flood affected and isolated communities. Over 24,000kgs worth of food and aid has been disseminated to date.

This was quickly followed by making donated products available to the communities in Far North Queensland affected by Cyclone Yasi with the first trucks delivering products as soon as the roads were open.

Due to the ripple effect of these disasters throughout the broader community, Foodbank said they expected an increased call on their services for many months and even years to come. So, with the unwavering support of its industry donors and volunteers, it is rolling up its sleeves to assist community rebuilding which is just beginning.