While our primary focus is to provide food to people in need, we do not generally provide food directly to individuals. Instead we work in cooperation with our charity partners that serve individuals and families.
If you require emergency food relief, please visit the Ask Izzy website, which will help to connect you with local food relief services, or click here to visit the Foodbank in your state/territory, where you will find links to locally-relevant services.
If you are located in Western Australia please visit https://erconnect.org.au/food/.
We need your help now. No child should have to go to school hungry, no parent should have to skip meals to feed their family and no Australian should have to suffer the stress and health impacts of not having the means to put food on the table.
Why not help us end hunger in Australia.
Click here to donate.
You can also support Foodbank by volunteering.
You can also contact your local MP/Senator to ask what they are doing to help Foodbank, and whether they support the development of a long-term, whole of government Food Security Strategy.
The Foodbank Hunger Report 2019 revealed that one in five Australians have experienced food insecurity at some point in the last 12 months. This means that for 21% of Australia’s population, there has been at least one time in the last year when they didn’t have enough food for themselves or their family and could not afford to buy more food. It’s hard to believe this is happening in the ‘lucky country’, where we produce enough food for 60 million people.
Food insecurity is a predicament largely hidden by stigma and shame, but the reality is we’re all likely to know someone who is affected. It’s not just people on the street, but people in your street. Our research found that more than half of Australians experiencing food insecurity skip a meal at least once a week (55%) or cut down on the size of their meals to make their food go further (50%). At least once a week, three in ten food insecure Australians (30%) go a whole day without eating.
As Australians, we subscribe to the belief of a fair go for all and, at Foodbank, we think that should include being free from hunger.
Click here to find out more about hunger in Australia.
Click here to find out more about hunger among children in Australia.
Food insecurity is “a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life” (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations). This is different to hunger, which is a sensation many of us experience often, but are able to address by simply opening a cupboard or a fridge. Food insecure people do not have this luxury and cannot regularly and routinely put a meal on the table for themselves or their family.
The face of hunger is diverse – those affected are men and women, children and the elderly. They are single and in families, students, employed, unemployed and retired. Also at risk are people with disabilities, refugees and those of Aboriginal and Islander descent. The suffering is often hidden, but the reality is we’re all likely to know someone going without.
Many of us face the daily pressures of rising amenity costs, including rent, mortgage repayments and power bills. For some people, this pressure can result in tough choices such as, ‘Do I pay that bill or buy food?’.
Energy prices have increased significantly in recent years and are expected to continue growing in the future. Unexpected expenses or large bills are the main cause of food insecurity for Australians, with 49% citing this as a reason they are unable to purchase more food when they run out. In these situations, people are forced to choose between food and other everyday necessities.
Two in five (42%) food insecure Australian’s have experienced food insecurity because they are living on a low income or pension.
Housing affordability is another area that causes financial stress for many Australians. Over the past five years, earnings have not kept pace with growth in rental prices. 34% of those who have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months have been unable to buy food because of their rent or mortgage payments.
To get through times of food insecurity, people often go without. When individuals are faced with food insecurity, meal-skipping is commonplace. More than half (55%) of Australians who experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months have skipped a meal, and 30% have gone for an entire day without eating.
For parents, meal-skipping can mean the difference between their children having something to eat or going hungry. Almost half (46%) of parents experiencing food insecurity have skipped a meal so that their children can eat in instances where they have been unable to afford food. Children can also miss out on vital nutrition and 17% of parents report their children go without fresh fruit or vegetables in times of food insecurity.
Lack of food can significantly impact quality of life. Not having enough to eat can severely impact everyday functioning and wellbeing. Food insecure Australians most commonly report lethargy or tiredness (47%), a decline in mental health (41%) and a loss of confidence (37%) because of lack of food.
Our 2019 Foodbank Hunger Report revealed that food insecure Australians are five times as likely to experience psychological distress than the average Australian. Just over one in ten adults (13%) in Australia experience high or very high levels of psychological distress compared to 70% of food insecure Australians.
Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, operating on a scale that makes it crucial to the work of the front line charities that are feeding vulnerable Australians. Foodbank provides 77 million meals a year (210,000 meals a day) to more than 2,400 charities around the country.
Foodbank is also the largest supporter of school breakfast programs in Australia, providing food for 2,000 schools nationally (both directly and via programs run by other organisations). Foodbank provides regular breakfasts to more than 132,000 students at schools around the country and on top of this, more than 200,000 children seek food relief from our charities every month.
As the only Australian food relief organisation to be an accredited member of the Global Foodbanking Network (GFN), Foodbank Australia goes through a rigorous re-certification process every two years whereby our operations, legislative compliance, programs and reporting processes are assessed by the GFN. Our most recent re-certification in February 2019 confirmed that Foodbank Australia is exceeding the requirements of membership and ‘exceeding global best practice’ in many ways.
Foodbank is registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) and endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). Our DGR status allows us to receive tax deductible contributions, which is vitally important given the modest funding we receive from Government to provide our essential services of public benefit right across the country. Click here to find out more about how we work.
Foodbank works right across the Australian food and grocery supply chain from farmers, wholesalers, and manufacturers through to the retailers to source food and groceries. Approximately 37 million kilograms of the 42.8 million kilograms of food and groceries sourced and distributed by Foodbank last year was sourced through ‘food rescue’. The remaining 5.8 million kilograms was sourced through proactive manufacturing and purchasing of product by Foodbank, as well as product donations. In addition to food rescue, food and grocery companies and retailers make food/grocery donations to Foodbank as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Many companies choose to make regular donations by increasing their production run or drawing straight from inventory in order to ensure that their product is consistently available to charities. They may also make special one-off donations at the time of natural disasters.
Foodbank is the only charity in Australia that collaborates with suppliers, manufacturers, and transporters in an innovative program to ensure consistent supplies of essential food items are available in its warehouses every day. The Collaborative Supply Program (click here to view a short video explaining the program) sees food manufacturers produce sought-after products using spare production capacity. Suppliers donate or subsidise the ingredients, packaging and delivery of the products to spread the commitment and enhance the sustainability of the program. Through this program, we are able to provide consistent supplies of breakfast cereals, fresh and long life milk, pasta and pasta sauce, canned fruit, baked beans and sausages. The program generates an average of 2 million kilograms of food each year, with every dollar invested in the program delivering $5 worth of food – clearly a sound investment.
The GFN has commended Foodbank Australia on its “world-leading” Collaborative Supply Program, which is recognised as demonstrating global best practice in sourcing food. Foodbank is now regularly called upon by other GFN members to guide them on the development of similar programs in their countries, given the unrivalled success of the program, which is regularly assessed not only in terms of volumes of food produced, but also the investment gearing.
Primary Produce Programs
Despite rural and regional Australians being more likely to be food insecure than their metro counterparts, farming communities work closely with Foodbank to donate grain, rice, milk, meat, eggs and fresh produce. Foodbank sources these essential products through relationships right along the supply chain, partnering with farmers, produce market associations, and peak bodies from paddock to plate. This farm fresh produce is collected by Foodbank and made available directly to our charity network to be provided to food recipients, used in Foodbank production kitchens, or used as manufacturing ingredients for the Collaborative Supply Program. For example, donated meat trim can be used in our protein program and become sausages.
Foodbanks across the country assist more than 2,000 schools around Australia through the direct and indirect delivery of School Breakfast Programs. Many of the nutritious products used in these School Breakfast Programs are sourced via the Key Staples Program. Given the geographic spread and range of socio-economic circumstances, Foodbank prides itself in its ability to be flexibly and dynamic in terms of delivery and distribution models, to ensure the best possible outcomes for children at these schools. Some Foodbanks also deliver nutrition education programs for adults and children alike to encourage improved nutrition literacy in the community.
A number of universities have recently completed (or are in the process of completing) independent, peer-reviewed assessments of the School Breakfast Programs in WA, SA and Victoria. For example, the Victoria Institute (Victoria University) has recently published an interim report on the Evaluation of the School Breakfast Clubs Program in Victoria, with compelling findings on the impact of the program on children’s concentration levels, engagement in class activities and academic outcomes.
‘Use By’ is the critical date mark as it signifies when a food must be consumed by for health and safety reasons. It is used on highly perishable foods, such as ready-made meals and items that are classified as high risk upon expiration. Foodbank does not distribute food at risk of exceeding its ‘Use By’ prior to being consumed.
‘Best Before’ is used to indicate quality rather than safety. It identifies the date after which food exceeds its peak quality. ‘Best Before’ dates are found on food such as fruits and vegetables, dried pasta, rice, tinned and canned foods. It is perfectly safe to eat food past its ‘Best Before’ date but some of its quality, flavour or texture may have been lost. Some of the food that Foodbank distributes is past its ‘Best Before’, however, we have worked with our manufacturing partners to ensure we meet their internal guidelines and that product is still safe to consume and the quality will not be unduly effected. The items must also comply with all our other requirements ensuring they are safe to consume (i.e. no damage to the packaging and have been stored under appropriate conditions etc)
Foodbank also plays a key role in times of community emergencies and natural disasters. Every State/Territory Foodbank is involved in disaster relief, providing essential supplies to support the work of emergency services and first responders as well as ongoing assistance to affected communities during the months and years it takes to recover. As a recent example, Foodbank NSW & ACT distributed 10,000 drought hampers to those in need.
This figure is calculated based on an independent study into Foodbank’s social return on investment (SROI). The study found that Foodbank’s food assistance not only addresses people’s immediate nutrition needs but also contributes to improvements in their health, emotional wellbeing, sense of self-worth, social relationships and ultimately overall standard of living. Combined with the environmental savings of food not going to waste, the benefit to the individual and the broader community that flows from every kilogram of food distributed by Foodbank is valued at $23. For children receiving food via school breakfast programs, that figure rises to $110. The SROI on Foodbank’s activities in 2019 was $960 million.
The methodology for the SROI research included:
- Research is undertaken by Net Balance (now Ernst & Young) in 2014
- 30 face-to-face interviews with food companies, charities and food recipients
- 155 survey responses from 14 charities and schools around Australia
- In determining the impact, only outcomes that could be underpinned by evidence and quantified were taken into consideration.
- Other factors taken into consideration were attribution, dead weight, displacement, benefit period and drop off i.e. the researchers were scrupulous in not overestimating Foodbank’s contribution.
Foodbank’s food and grocery rescue operations play a key role in addressing Australia’s $20 billion food waste problem, redirecting and/or repurposing approximately 37 million kilograms of food and groceries that may otherwise end up in landfill, saving more than 81 million kilograms of CO2 emissions every year. Foodbank worked closely with the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy, our sector peers and our supply chain colleagues in the development of Australia’s first ever National Food Waste Strategy. The Australian Government has committed to halving food waste by 2030 (consistent with Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals).
Foodbank is also proud to be an inaugural partner in Australia’s first ever Cooperative Research Centre dedicated to fighting food waste. After a highly competitive bidding process more than two years in the making, in early 2018, the Australian Government confirmed a $30m grant towards the creation of a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on Food Waste. The 10yr, $133m Fight Food Waste CRC will be headquartered in Adelaide, and will support industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community to address the issue of food waste and help the Government fulfil its National Food Waste Strategy commitment to halve food waste in Australia.
Foodbank’s activities across Australian play a key role in delivering on at least five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Foodbank’s operations are strongly aligned to the following five goals, SDG 2 Zero Hunger, SDG 1 No Poverty, SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities, SDG12 Responsible Consumption & Production, SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals.
All levels of government have a role to play in addressing the root causes of food insecurity and working with organisations like Foodbank to ensure food relief is available while these causes are being addressed.
The Federal Government has an opportunity to deliver significant positive change by developing a long-term, whole of government strategy to coordinate the efforts of government and all key stakeholder in addressing the current food security crisis. We believe a national food security strategy is crucial to ensuring vulnerable Australians have access to essential support when it is needed most. This has been a key 2019 Federal Election focus for Foodbank, as outlined in election advocacy documents, which you can view here.
Foodbank has also argued that Federal Government investment in the food relief sector is too low given the scale of the problem at hand. As an example, Foodbank Australia currently receives $750 000 per annum from the Federal Government through the Department of Social Services to be used exclusively for our Key Staples Program. This is a relatively minor financial investment given we’re talking about an issue affecting 15% of the population, and total revenue for 2018/19 is reported in the Federal Budget as $486.1 billion.
Foodbank’s most recent Pre-Budget Submission outlined what we believe is the minimum that is required from the Federal Government over the next 12 months and beyond if we are to come close to meeting demand for food relief.
We would love you to ask your local Member of Parliament or State/Territory Senator what they are doing to help Foodbank and whether they support the development of a long-term, bi-partisan food security strategy.
Foodbank works with the entire Australian food and grocery industry from farmers, wholesalers, and manufacturers to retailers to source food and groceries. Approximately 37 million kilograms of the 42.8 million kilograms of food and groceries sourced and distributed by Foodbank last year was sourced through ‘food rescue’. The remaining 5.8 million kilograms was sourced through proactive manufacturing and purchase of product by Foodbank, as well as product donations. In addition to food rescue, food and grocery companies and retailers make food/grocery donations to Foodbank as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Many companies choose to make regular donations by increasing their production run or drawing straight from inventory in order to ensure that their product is consistently available to charities. They may also make special one-off donations at the time of natural disasters.
In addition, in an innovative and world-leading foodbanking program, Foodbank also collaborates with suppliers, manufacturers and transporters to proactively manufacture key staple foods to ensure that these are available year round. You can watch a 4-minute video about this impressive program here.
To ensure we get the most food to the most people in the most efficient and effective way, Foodbank charges ‘handling fees’ for some items to help offset some of our operational costs. In a country as big as ours some of our biggest costs are transport and logistics; getting food from where it is to where it needs to go.
Running Foodbank’s operations across the country to enable us to reach 815,000 Australians per month requires ongoing funding. We have many generous partners who support us, however the majority of our donations are food and grocery items. Handling fees vary across the Foodbank network.
Handling fees also allow us to source and provide a wider range of products to the end recipients, giving them dignity of choice and also, in the majority of instances, product that has good shelf life, rather than just short life product.
Foodbank varies the rate of handling fees on individual products to encourage healthier choices (e.g. in the vast majority of instances fruit and vegetables do not have handling fees). Also, the rate of handling fees on specific products is adjusted to manage inventory (i.e. lower/no fees on particularly large or short coded donations that need to be moved quickly).