Foodbank Hunger Report shows 180,000 Australian children relying on food welfare each month

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd December 2014
Foodbank Hunger Report shows 180,000 Australian children relying on food welfare each month
Foodbank Hunger Report shows 180,000 Australian children relying on food welfare each month

Earlier in 2014, the Foodbank Hunger Report, a study undertaken by Foodbank, found that the charity provides food relief for over half a million Australians every month, more than a third of whom are children.

The Foodbank Report also found that were still 60,000 people seeking assistance each month — including 24,000 children — who are turned away empty handed due to lack of food and resources.

About Foodbank

Foodbank is the largest food relief organisation in Australia providing food for 109,000 meals a day to people in hardship. It is a non-denominational and non-profit, with distribution centres in all states, the Northern Territory and a number of regional centres.

Over 700 companies donate food and groceries including primary producers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers and the public.

Contributions include stock that is close to expiry, has incorrect labelling or damaged packaging, is excess to requirements or from slow moving and deleted lines as well as just straight donations.

Products from rescue and donation channels, however, do not ensure a sustainable or consistent supply of essential staple foods. To address this Foodbank has a Key Staples Program to proactively source what’s needed with the assistance of manufacturers and their suppliers. Through this method Foodbank is able to collaboratively source breakfast cereal, fresh and long life milk, pasta, pasta sauce and canned fruit and vegetables.

Foodbank sorts and shares the product it receives within its national network.

The food goes to over 2,500 charities and 832 schools who use it to provide home hampers and emergency relief packages as well as meals in hostels, shelters, drop-in centres and schools.

Demand for food relief rising

Foodbank said demand for food relief was rising with family economic circumstances identified as the main driver for people turning to food relief.

Low income families make up the largest group seeking assistance, followed by single parent families and the unemployed. With many living pay check to pay check, general low income and unexpected expenses or events are the biggest factors in driving families and individuals to access food aid.

Food charities unable to keep up with demand

As increasing numbers of the population are turning to food assistance, charities have been unable to keep pace with demand. More than 60 per cent reported increases in the numbers of people accessing their services, while one in five saw an increase of more than 15 per cent.

Benefits beyond immediate hunger relief

Foodbank said that for the first time, its Foodbank Report quantified the true benefit of its food relief activities. Foodbank said its services extend beyond satisfying immediate hunger.

In addition to addressing nutritional and physical health needs, Foodbank said a meal contributed to improvements in emotional wellbeing, sense of self worth, social relationships, academic performance and ultimately overall standard of living.

Combined with the environmental benefits of food not going to waste, Foodbank said the social return created per kilogram of food is $23, which meant in a single year the return to society of the work of Foodbank and its partners was $571 million.

“No child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from, yet a shocking number of Aussie kids are in this position every year,” said Jason Hincks, CEO of Foodbank Australia. “We need to be investing in our children and ultimately the future of our country, making sure we’re supporting all individuals young and old,” he said.

“Our Social Return on Investment research highlights the overwhelming community benefits that even one kilogram of food can deliver, so we’re working hard to continue to support Australia’s welfare agencies and in turn, children and adults who need assistance,” Mr Hincks said.

Australian Food News reported in April 2014 that Mr Hincks had been appointed as the new CEO of Foodbank Australia.

Food relief first step towards longer term solutions

Foodbank said its Hunger Report highlighted that food relief was key to helping vulnerable people move towards a longer term solution.

Almost three quarters of agencies (73 per cent) reported that food was a significant reason for people seeking out welfare services, while four in five agencies felt it helped build trust and enabled them to offer other assistance.

“We know food is a significant reason why people come through our doors, so we’re working hard to make sure we’re able to provide this basic requirement to as many disadvantaged Australians as we can,” said Major Bruce Harmer, Salvation Army spokesperson. “What’s even more important is how food assistance helps us to build trust and address those bigger issues that may have led these individuals to rely on food relief in the first place,” he said.

As the nation’s largest hunger relief charity, Foodbank is the only organisation with the scale to tackle the growing problem of hunger in Australia. Foodbank accounts for 80 per cent of the food distributed to welfare agencies by food rescue organisations. Last financial year it delivered the equivalent of 39.9 million meals or 109,000 meals each day.

Key findings of the Foodbank Hunger Report 2014 included:

  • More than 516,000 Australians access food relief each month – almost 35 per cent are children.
  • 60,000 Australians are unable to be assisted by welfare agencies each month – children make up 40 per cent of these people.
  • Low income families continue to be the biggest group accessing food assistance, followed by single parent families and the unemployed.
  • 65 per cent of charities report they don’t have enough food to meet demand, with 60 per cent more food needed to meet demand.
  • Food welfare creates significant value across social, economic and environmental areas of the community. The forecasted value created per kilogram of food is $23.
  • In a single year the social value forecast of the activities of Foodbank and its fellow stakeholders is $571 million.
  • 73 per cent of agencies note that food is a significant reason why people seek their services.
  • 80 per cent of agencies note that food helps staff build trust and provide other services.

Rice growers, SunRice and Deni Freighters donate 1.43 million serves of rice to Foodbank

Riverina rice growers have teamed up with leading Australian branded foods company SunRice, and transport company Deniliquin Freighters, to donate more than 1.43 million serves of Australian rice to people in need this holiday season.

The special project, led by SunRice and involving the entire rice industry supply chain, resulted in a donation of 100 tonnes of medium grain rice to food charity Foodbank, valued at $100,000. Foodbank coordinates emergency food supplies across a range of charities and community groups, with the rice donation aiming to help the 60,000 Australians who these charities are unable to assist each month, many of whom are children.

Doubling their charitable offerings from last year, SunRice CEO, Mr Rob Gordon, said the efforts are a result of the partnership between SunRice, growers and Deniliquin Freighters.

“The SunRice and Foodbank project has involved the whole of the rice industry supply chain with paddy rice being donated by growers, milling and packaging donated by the company and the freight costs associated with transporting the rice from Leeton to Melbourne donated by Deniliquin Freighters,” Mr Gordon said.

Foodbank CEO, Mr Jason Hincks, says despite being the largest food relief organisation in the country, it is still a challenge to supply everyone in need.

“Over 2 million Australians seek food relief every year and, in spite of the fact that we provide food for over 100,000 meals a day to front line charities, the need is still not being met.” Mr Hincks said. “This is why we’re extremely grateful to SunRice and its growers for their generous donation. Rice is a key staple that is much sought after by the 2,500 charities we serve and this donation will ensure that we have supplies well into the New Year,” he said.

SunRice and Foodbank plan to continue the donation process in 2015, with the benefits of adequate food supplies resonating in Australian society.

“It’s clear that every meal provides people with more than just a full stomach today. It helps them and the community in which they live to achieve a brighter future,” Mr Hincks said.