Foodbank celebrates growing volunteer numbers, but more are needed across sector
Marking National Volunteer Week, Foodbank Victoria – the state’s oldest and largest food relief organisation – has welcomed a 25 per cent increase in volunteers.
Last year, 2721 individuals volunteered almost 30,000 hours of time to Foodbank Victoria, helping to distribute the equivalent of 15 million meals.
Foodbank Victoria CEO Dave McNamara said volunteers are an integral part of addressing food insecurity right across the state.
“From packing orders of food and grocery items in our Yarraville warehouse; delivering hampers to those in need; distributing fresh food at our pop-up markets; or assisting with important office duties – our volunteers are truly the backbone of our organisation,” he said.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to see how many dedicated Victorians are continually motivated to join our cause and share in our vision of healthy food for all. We now have close to 90 regular volunteers with some choosing to volunteer with us two or three days a week. That’s a remarkable gift.”
The latest Foodbank Hunger Report found 57% of its Victorian charity partners had seen an increase in people seeking food relief in the past 12 months. Charities were being forced to turn away around 12,000 Victorians each month due to a lack of resources – including food and volunteers.
“Although we are lucky to have seen our volunteer numbers grow, many of our 400+ metropolitan and regional charity partners are desperately in need of volunteers to help run their food relief programs,” continued Mr McNamara.
To help link potential volunteers with charities, Foodbank Victoria hosts an online map at www.foodbank.org.au/volunteermap
Darebin Information Volunteer and Resource Service (DIVRS) is one Foodbank charity partner in need of more volunteers. The charity, based in Preston, provides a range of services for low-income residents – including emergency relief in the form of food parcels and programs around growing food. More than 80 people volunteer at DIVRS weekly to help feed over 250 families.
“Food insecurity is a growing issue in our community and we’ve seen a significant increase in those accessing our food relief program. Our volunteers are a vital part of our services, and without them we simply would not be able to assist the vulnerable in our community,” said Frances Trimboli, Executive Officer at DIVRS.
Foodbank’s website also has a map of state primary schools who need additional volunteers to run their School Breakfast Clubs. Foodbank Victoria, in partnership with the Victorian Government and Department of Education and Training, provides 50,000 healthy breakfasts a week through the program.
According to Volunteering Australia, 5.8 million Australians or 31 per cent of the population participates in formal volunteering activities. Nationally this is an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion.