As the largest food relief and food rescue organisation in South Australia, Foodbank’s leadership role in addressing the growing issue of food insecurity has been increasingly highlighted over the past year. The public awareness of the issue of food waste has increased substantially, especially with TV shows such as the ABC’s War on Waste and this has driven the Federal Government to establish a $150 million Food Waste Collaborative Research Centre to address the issue. This CRC will be based in Adelaide, and Foodbank will be actively involved in finding possible solutions to redirect some of the $16 billion of food wasted in Australia every year.
Paradoxically, while food waste is a problem, there has been a 21% increase in demand for food assistance in the SA community, with 102,000 people seeking assistance every month. Of most concern is that the numbers in regional areas are increasing disproportionately to those in the city, and despite our record achievement of distributing over 2.5 million kgs in the past year, there are many thousands of people and families that we were unable to help, either because they are located in regions not serviced by Foodbank or other welfare agencies or because there was insufficient supply of essential foods.
In order to meet the demand in South Australia, Foodbank SA has developed clear strategies for the next 2-3 years. Firstly, we will provide easier access to food by launching more of our successful food hubs in strategic and priority areas of SA. The launch of our new food hub in Mt Gambier this year had an immediate impact, with volume through our local branch increasing by over 60%, clearly indicating that such a service is essential in regional areas.
Secondly we will seek to distribute to more regions of SA, previously serviced infrequently or not at all, which will require increasing the costs of freight.
Thirdly, to meet these ends, financial sustainability is critical. After the recent state election, submissions were made to the SA Government to provide partial funding to offset the costs of freight to service regional and remote towns in SA, and to contribute to the costs of establishing food hubs. Unfortunately, at this stage this submission was declined, and so Foodbank will now continue to partner with corporate supporters across the state who share our vision to end hunger. We are incredibly fortunate to have a core group of major sponsors who understand what we do and are prepared to underwrite our efforts to achieve our goals, and we are proud to work with them.
Foodbank would not even exist without the efforts and dedication of our team of staff and volunteers. Last year our volunteers contributed nearly 80,000 hours to our cause, with people of all ages and backgrounds now being part of the Foodbank Family, and it is this unique blend that makes Foodbank SA what it is today.
We hope you will all continue on this journey with us as we aim to ‘end hunger’ here in South Australia.