By Sarah Pennell, Foodbank Australia
Hunger is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Two million Australians access food assistance at some point every year, with half of those going without being children. Low income and single parent families have become the biggest groups turning to welfare agencies for help, as cost of living pressures mean one unexpected expense or event can tip the balance.
As holidays such as Easter approach, the gap between the more and less fortunate is highlighted. While many of us look forward to a few days of food, family and, of course, chocolate for those who aren’t able to share this joy, the holidays can create a sense of isolation from the community.
This is especially true for children, who cannot understand why they won’t be visited by the Easter Bunnyand feel forgotten.
Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation is helping to share the joy of Easter with these children and their families. This is thanks to the ongoing generosity of Cadbury, which this year has donated more than one million chocolate eggs to be shared with the 2,500 welfare agencies and community groups around the country that Foodbank serves.
Foodbank acts as the pantry to Australia’s charity welfare sector, providing regular food supplies as well as special treats such as the Cadbury eggs.
We work hard to provide support to charities around the country, as the number of people relying on food assistance continues to grow – in 2013 alone we saw a 9% increase. Almost 70% of welfare agencies around the country are facing an increase in demand and simply cannot keep up. Last year, more than 65,000 Australians were unable to be assisted each month due to insufficient food supplies.
In order to meet the increasing demand, Foodbank continues to work with the Australian food and grocery industry including farmers, manufacturers and retailers who donate food and groceries, including stock that is surplus to need, close to expiry date or out of specification. We’re also adopting new solutions including partnering with suppliers and manufacturers to produce key staple foods and collecting more fresh produce at the farm gate level.
The food and groceries go to charities and community groups which use them to provide home hampers and emergency relief packages as well as meals in hostels, shelters, drop-in centres and schools. The agencies tell us that this food is the first step in helping people out of crisis. It brings through their doors people who might not otherwise seek help and builds the trust that is essential to tackling the underlying causes of their crisis. Our services mean the hard-working charities don’t have to worry about sourcing food but instead can concentrate on the other vital services that get vulnerable people back on their feet.
Ultimately however, we hope a way is found to reducing the ever increasing numbers of Australians turning to food welfare. We believe that not knowing where your next meal will come from is something that no one in this ‘lucky country’ should have to experience.
To find out more about Foodbank Australia, visit www.foodbank.org.au.
Sarah Pennell is the Business and Communications Manager for Foodbank Australia. Foodbank is the largest food relief charity in Australia providing food for 107,000 meals a day to people in hardship. Operating since 1992, Foodbank is a national, non-denominational organisation which provides food assistance to more than 2,500 welfare agencies and community groups around the country.
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