Foodbank Australia has lodged its pre-budget submission ahead of the 2018-19 Federal Budget, calling for longer-term funding commitments to assist the organisation to provide food relief to more food insecure people across Australia.
Foodbank is seeking support for the development of a long-term, bi-partisan, whole-of-government strategy on food security in Australia as a key input to Australia’s response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The strategy should outline long-term solutions capable of addressing the key contributors to food insecurity in Australia, as well as policy and funding solutions that will enhance the food relief sector’s ability to efficiently and effectively get food to the right places. Foodbank is currently doing the ‘heavy lifting’ when it comes to providing food relief to vulnerable communities, but cross-portfolio solutions are required if we are to reduce demand for food relief.
Looking specifically at Federal Government funding, Foodbank Australia is calling for the following:
Funding for the Key Staples Program
Foodbank is seeking a three-year funding commitment of $10.5 million (in total) from 2018/19 to 2020/21 to grow the current volume of ‘key staple’ foods distributed to food insecure Australians by 14 million kilograms. With 3.6 million Australians affected by food insecurity and our network of >2400 charities unable to meet current food relief demand, it is imperative that the current annual funding of $750 000 per annum be increased and a longer-term commitment secured. A $3.5 million/year investment from the Federal Government would deliver a gearing of 30:1 and a massive $316m social return on investment over 3 years.
Incentivising Transportation of Donated Food Relief Products
Foodbank is seeking the support of Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office to identify the most appropriate policy and/or legislative mechanisms to incentivise increased donations of essential food and grocery products to Foodbank through enhanced tax deductions for food donations, and the introduction of tax deductions for transport services related to food relief. Our taxation advice indicates that the delivery/transportation of donated food and grocery items is not currently considered as a ‘gift’, which means the costs of transporting donated food and grocery items remains a barrier to potential donors, with landfill often being a cheaper option. These reforms would deliver positive outcomes from both a food insecurity and food waste perspective.
Funding for Food Relief Transport
Foodbank is seeking an annual grant from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development of $5.5 million to offset some of the costs associated with transporting >67 million meals per annum to food insecure Australians. Transport is one of the greatest barriers to our ability to ensure that surplus produce is collected from growing regions and that food relief is delivered efficiently to the areas of most demand (noting that people in rural and regional Australia are 11% more likely to be food insecure than their metropolitan counterparts). Even when large volumes of highly sought-after fresh produce are identified (noting that 25% of vegetables produced in Australia never leave the farm), the costs (either to the grower or Foodbank) of transporting the produce can be prohibitive, leading to poor outcomes from both a food insecurity and food waste perspective.
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