Budget: $1 million annually for Foodbank

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th May 2011

In last night’s federal budget, the government announced it will allocate $1 million of funding per annum, to support the work of Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation.

Foodbank Australia’s Chairman, Enzo Allara commented, “This is a significant step forward for Foodbank, as the Federal Government has acknowledged the growing problem of hunger that affects two million Australians each year. It also recognises the crucial role that Foodbank and its partners play in combating poverty across the country.”

New analysis from Foodbank released today reveals that demand for food support is rapidly rising, over the past 12 months there has been:
·        a dramatic 33% increase in the number of welfare agencies that rely on its services in New South Wales;
·        a 28% increase in Victoria; and,
·        an overall 11% increase across the country.

The not-for-profit now provides food to more than 2,500 welfare agencies and 396 schools across the country, creating a total of 70,000 meals every day – over 25.5 million a year.

Currently 13.2% of Australians live in low income households and the increasing reliance on Foodbank reflects the growing number of Australians dependent on welfare support and the increasing poverty gap. There is a common misconception that it is just the homeless who depend on charities. The rising cost of living in Australia has increased the pressure on other groups that now seek support, including those living on their own, the elderly, single mothers and the working poor.

Foodbank acts as a ‘pantry’ for the welfare sector, by collecting donations from food manufacturers, retailers and fresh food farmers and distributing it to charities around the country. Collaboration is the driving principle behind Foodbank as it works in partnership with the food and grocery industry, the corporate sector, governments, welfare agencies and volunteers.

The government funding support will be used to manufacture food through Foodbank’s Collaborative Supply Program, which aims to meet the deficit in donations of essential foods such as breakfast cereals, milk, pasta and pasta sauce, canned meals, fresh fruit and vegetables and meat.

Enzo Allara comments, “There is currently a gap between the amount of key staple food that is donated to Foodbank and what is needed to feed Australians relying on hunger relief. The Collaborative Supply Program allows us to address part of this shortfall as we coordinate the production, processing, packaging and transport of products, using donated ingredients and services from a variety of Foodbank’s valued partners.”

While the aim is to have all inputs and processing donated, this is simply not possible and consequently Foodbank requires financial contributions to purchase those inputs that are not donated. With funding support, Foodbank is able to leverage other donations and can make enough food to feed a family of four for just $1.40, so the $1 million Federal Government funding could potentially create an extra 2.8 million meals each year.

However, Foodbank’s goal is to reach 50 million kg of food distributed annually by 2015 – in 2009/10 this figure stood at 19 million kg. The government support will bridge part of this gap and Foodbank will need to gain even broader support from its industry partners to achieve its goal. The investment will be leveraged through Foodbank’s partnerships and programs to feed the nearly 10% of Australians that rely on hunger relief each year.