Foodbank FAQs

Where can I get help?

If you require emergency food relief, please visit the Foodbank page in your state or territory or head to Ask Izzy, which will help to connect you with local food relief services.

 

What can I do to help?

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.

Is hunger really a problem in Australia?

The Foodbank Hunger Report 2022 revealed that one in six adults in Australia haven’t had enough to eat and 1.2million children have gone hungry in the past year.

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 one in three food insecure Australians (38%) are not seeking food relief and that more than one in 10 food insecure Australians (13%) do not seek food relief because they have already accessed all they are allowed to from a charity, highlighting the fact that there is more demand than charities and community groups are able to meet in come communities.

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.

What is food insecurity (and why don’t you just say ‘hungry’)?

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.

Who experiences food insecurity in Australia?

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.

What causes food insecurity?

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 35% 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.

What is it like to be food insecure?

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 (87%) 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.

What are the impacts of being food insecure?

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, a decline in mental health and a loss of confidence because of lack of food.

What is Foodbank?

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 88 million meals a year to more than 2,950 charities and 2,890 schools around the country.

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.

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.

How does Foodbank source its food and groceries?

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.

Last year Foodban sourced 48.1 million kilograms of food and groceries.

To ensure warehouses always have key staples in stock, Foodbank collaborates with manufacturers, suppliers and transporters to proactively supplement essential items that do not come in sufficient quantities via traditional food rescue channels. In 2021 Foodbank purchased 11.6 million kilograms of food this way (24% of total).

Collaborative Supply Program

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 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.

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.

What are Foodbank School Breakfast Programs?

Foodbanks across the country assist more than 2,890 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.

What’s the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ and does Foodbank distribute food beyond these dates?

‘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)

What role does Foodbank play in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies?

Foodbank 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.

How does Foodbank calculate Social Return on Investment?

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 2020 was $i billion.

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.
What is Foodbank’s role in addressing food waste?

Foodbank’s food and grocery rescue operations play a key role in addressing Australia’s $36.6 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 an active participant in Stop Food Waste Australia and the Fight Food WasteCooperative Research Centre which are both committed to the goal of halving food waste by 2030.

How does Foodbank contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

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.

What is the government doing?

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.

Federal Government funding for the food relief sector is not confirmed beyond next financial year. Ahead of the Federal election, Foodbank, is seeking three key commitments from all the parties and independents to ensure vulnerable people have consistent and reliable access to food:

  1. Sustained and adequate funding for food relief
  2. The establishment of dedicated disaster preparedness and emergency food relief programs
  3. The introduction of a national food waste tax incentive, making it easier for the food sector to redirect its surplus for food relief
What is the food industry doing?

Foodbank works with the entire Australian food and grocery industry from farmers, wholesalers, and manufacturers to retailers to source food and groceries.  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.