At the Cross Road Forum held on February 8, Foodbank SA CEO Greg Pattinson said the organisation had initiated talks with agencies including Vinnies, the Salvation Army, Anglicare and Junction Australia to discuss their plans for the new Foodhub.
He said recent assessments indicated there was a “definite need” for the organisation to have a presence in the southern suburbs. Last September a pop-up Foodbank in Noarlunga showed the extent of the food insecurity issue, with more than 800 people taking advantage of free food and grocery items available over a two-hour period.
Mr Pattinson said they had been “overwhelmed” by the response to the event, which wasn’t advertised but promoted through welfare and community support agencies.
“The number of people attending represented more than 2000 South Australians, many of them children,” he said.
After determining a need in the southern suburbs, Foodbank SA successfully applied for a $110,000 Fund My Neighbourhood grant to establish the new hub and hopes to have it operating some time in the July-September quarter this year.
As Mr Pattinson explained, the Foodhub concept provides those in need with a “dignified experience” of visiting a general store environment that offers food at extremely discounted prices. A $30 voucher can buy food worth more than $250 retail.
“Not having money to buy food for your family is a devastating feeling. Not being able to go to a supermarket and choose the items you want strikes right into one’s dignity and it is one of the many issues related with food insecurity,” he said.
Foodbank SA already has hubs operating in Bowden, Elizabeth, Edwardstown, Mount Gambier and Port Pirie, with a mobile service due to be launched this year. The organisation is currently assessing the need in country centres including Whyalla and Murray Bridge, particularly since the fire at Thomas Foods International’s abattoir.
Those at the forum heard how the services offered by Foodbank SA had grown and diversified significantly since it started as a food rescue organisation in 2000, with Hutt St Centre as its first client.
It now supplies food to more than 550 community groups and welfare agencies and works with more than 400 schools. Foodbank SA collaborates with farmers, manufacturers and government on innovative programs to produce key staple foods such as pasta, breakfast cereals, sauces and sausages. Christmas hampers – including those collected through the Brother Michael appeal run by The Monastery – and disaster relief are also now part of its responsibilities.
“Our aim is to get the most food, to the most people in need, in the most efficient way,” Mr Pattinson said.
Each year more than 150 companies donate three million kilograms of food which is distributed by Foodbank’s four warehouses. But despite the generosity and helping more than 100,000 South Australians every month – a third of whom are children – Mr Pattinson said demand still outweighed supply.
“Regrettably in South Australia we punch above our weight and our business is growing. We grew 21 per cent last year.
“Our research shows that tough circumstances can happen to anyone and that the ‘bludging’ stereotype just isn’t true. In reality those going hungry in our community are male, female, young and old, single and in families, students, employed, unemployed and retired people.”
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