Foodbank WA ramp up emergency food relief efforts
5th June 2020
Even before the advent of COVID-19, food insecurity was a daily reality for tens of thousands of Western Australians. The pandemic has since disrupted every aspect of our lives and an increasing number of people have found themselves in an unprecedented situation where they cannot afford to buy enough food to eat.
Foodbank WA has provided a reliable source of essential food and groceries for Western Australians in need for over 25 years. The COVID-19 crisis has seen the organisation move quickly to respond and adapt their business model to allow them to continue to provide essential food and grocery items to the more than 400 charity partners State-wide which assist people in need of emergency food relief. During this time Foodbank WA redeployed and trained staff and sourced new volunteers, with many regulars considered high risk and going into voluntary isolation.
Foodbank WA CEO, Greg Hebble, said the initial threat of the global pandemic left the organisation with empty shelves due to hoarding and panic buying in the broader community.
“As with many businesses and charities, COVID-19 harshly affected our ability to provide for people in need and our services were severely compromised,” said Mr Hebble.
“Thankfully, our incredible staff and volunteers have been busier than ever, as we quickly adapted our processes and transformed our six distribution centres from a traditional grocery shopping experience to a ‘hamper only’ service to comply with the government’s strict health and distancing conditions.
“This was a necessary change to allow us to continue to provide an essential service during this uncertain time, while also keeping staff, volunteers, agencies and customers safe.”
While the immediate health risk has eased here in Western Australia, the economic and social impacts will be long lasting. Foodbank WA is expecting to see a steep rise in the number of people needing food assistance once the government stimulus and support packages finish as indicated at the end of September.
“While the numbers accessing our services in WA has remained fairly steady over the last few months, we are bracing for higher demand when Western Australians find themselves without a job or government support and we are currently planning for that scenario,” he said.
Vital programs such as Mobile Foodbank, School Breakfast Program and the Perth Airport School Fruit Van are still up and running. Foodbank WA’s Nutrition Education Programs have also gone virtual and have proven very popular as a way to gain practical advice about how to effectively plan and prepare meals on a tight budget.
In addition to Foodbank WA’s range of Everyday Hampers which consist of rescued and donated food items, The CMEWA COVID-19 Community Support Initiative along with other individual, corporate and philanthropic donations have enabled Foodbank WA to purchase essential food and groceries to pack and distribute COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Hampers.
The COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Hampers are being distributed to targeted communities in metro, regional and remote Western Australia and are also available across all six distribution
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of CMEWA COVID-19 Community Support Initiative as it has helped us continue to operate through these testing and uncertain times and to purchase
essential food and groceries to pack and distribute COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Hampers,” said Mr Hebble.
“We’ve completely transformed our warehouse and have daily teams of 30-40 volunteers packing hampers, it’s a mass production line to create the relief hampers, packing almost 5,000 a week.”
“The COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief hampers are filled with shelf stable food products for easy transportation, storage and nutritional consumption, which will better meet the rapidly rising need for food across metro, regional and remote communities.”
The hampers have already been distributed across the Perth metro area, as far North as Onslow and south to Albany to identified communities outside of Foodbank WA’s current welfare agency network.
“This has been the most challenging time in our 25 year history, however it has been wonderful to see that community spirit is strong here in Western Australia. With the ongoing support of our incredible partners and supporters, we will continue to be there to provide dignity and food to the growing number of people in crisis,” said Mr Hebble.
The Hon. Kim Beazley, AC Governor of Western Australia and Foodbank WA patron said that the organisation has been there for many individuals and families in crisis before, during and after the
“It’s fantastic to see how Foodbank has been able to transform its operation and continue to provide essential food and groceries to Western Australians who rely on them in times of hardship,” said Mr Beazley.
“Now, more than ever, is the time to recognise all of the staff, volunteers and supporters of this great charitable organisation and their contribution to our communities across Western Australia.
“We need to pull together even more strongly to get through this current situation and move forward with positivity and with hope,” he said.
If you would like to make a donation to Foodbank WA please donate today or call (08) 9258 9277.