Food Relief Sector misses out in budget

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SYDNEY, Wednesday 10th May 2023: Australia’s largest food relief organisations (Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite) have collectively expressed their disappointment in the Federal Government’s decision not to increase funding to the food relief sector as part of its suite of Budget measures to alleviate cost of living pressures.

The sector had requested an annual Federal Government commitment of $45m per annum to ensure food relief is available to those experiencing food insecurity all year round. It had also requested the establishment of rapidly disbursable, stand-by funding to assist with natural disasters mitigation, preparedness and resilience – both requests have gone unanswered.

OzHarvest CEO, Ronnie Kahn AO says the increase in the number of people being impacted by cost of living pressures has been mirrored by an unprecedented increase in the number of people seeking urgent assistance from food pantries and other frontline charities – many for the very first time.

“This budget presented an opportunity for the Federal Government to address the historic underfunding of the food relief sector and hand down a wellbeing Budget that prioritised the most vulnerable in our communities. It is devastating that despite the record increase in demand for food the government couldn’t find any money in the budget to assist the sector to expand its work so less people go to bed hungry” said Ms Khan.

Foodbank Australia CEO, Brianna Casey, says the food relief sector acknowledges and welcomes the increase to the rates of JobSeeker and related payments, but not a single cent was allocated to food relief.

“The cost of living crisis has forced people to make impossible choices about where their last dollars go each week, and for many, food has become a discretionary item in the household budget. It is galling that in a surplus budget no extra money could be found for food relief,” Ms Casey said.

With the increased cost of housing, food and groceries, energy and other essential services leading more and more people to food relief charities, this budget presented an opportunity for the Federal Government to ‘leave no one behind’.

SecondBite Acting CEO, Lucy Coward says the sector has been a key player in the provision of nutritious food to hungry Australians, as well as playing an integral role in the distribution of food to communities impacted by natural disaster and the pandemic over the past few years.

“Collectively we are unable to meet all the demands for food relief from the community, with rising input costs also impacting frontline charities and food relief providers, making it harder and more costly for us to reach the growing number of people in need of support,” said Ms Coward.

The sector calls on the Federal Government to work together with the Food Relief sector over the coming 12 months on meaningful ways to meet the increasing demand for food relief, and better ensure we are prepared and able to act promptly in response to future disasters across our community.