As Christmas has been rapidly approaching, the team at Foodbank has been busy organising our annual Christmas Hamper program, where we pack and distribute 10,000 hampers for struggling families across the state. Since October, 23 South Australian companies have volunteered their services for a morning to pack all of these hampers, proving once again how generous the corporate sector is here in Adelaide.
The generosity of the people of SA has also been on display in November and December during the annual Romeos Foodland Food Drive where shoppers are asked to donate a can or two to Foodbank. This year the food drive has been supported and promoted by ABC Radio, in Adelaide and all SA regional stations, and the response has been spectacular, with the bins at many stores having to be emptied a number of times.
The highlight of the drive was the ABC Breakfast Food Drive Day, where the breakfast show was broadcast from 5 locations across Adelaide where people could stop and donate food or funds. In that short time, over $10,000 and 2.6 tonne of food was donated, enough to provide 25,280 meals. I was at the Adelaide Railway station drop off point and was able to see firsthand how people donated not just a can, but full shopping bags.
Furthermore, in an impressive bi-partisan gesture, the Premier Steven Marshall and the Leader of the Opposition Peter Malinauskas walked over from their offices together to donate food, clearly highlighting the role that Foodbank plays in addressing an important social issue in our state. We hope to continue to engage with both gentlemen in the future to further discuss this issue.
At a national level, the Federal Government recently (and erroneously) announced that they would be cutting funding to the national Foodbank network by 50%. This cut would have seriously jeopardised Foodbanks national food procurement programs, threatening supplies of pasta, cereal and meat products, and comes on top of a 50% cut three years ago. Fortunately MPs from all parties protested this cut, led by SA MPs Tony Pasin, Nicolle Flint, and Steve Georganas, and the decision was reversed by the PM within 24 hours. While the few days over which this occurred were very worrying, the episode highlighted that some government Ministers still had little understanding of Foodbank and had little appreciation of the size, scale and the model which we operate compared to other food rescue charities such as Oz Harvest. They simply thought we all “did the same thing and just rescued food from supermarkets and gave it away”. It became evident that we must continue to tailor our messaging to all levels of Government such that the unique role that Foodbank plays is clear.
Finally, we are all very excited to be opening our brand new Food Hub at Christies Beach. This new venture has been over a year in the making and will be the biggest food hub we have ever done. We know that demand for our services in the southern suburbs is high so establishing a permanent presence in this area has been a high priority for us for nearly 3 years, and this has now become reality thanks to many supporters and suppliers who have contributed to the new facilities. We remain convinced that food hubs are the way of the future for providing food assistance to struggling families, so in the new year, we plan to open a new food hub in Whyalla and will launch a Mobile Food Hub, with more to come in the next few years.
I would like to wish the entire Foodbank Family, our staff, our volunteers and our supporters a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.