Who’s feeding the food aid charities?
24 August 2020 at 10:08 pm
The need for emergency food relief in Australia has jumped 46 per cent since January. We take a look at what that means for one of the organisations delivering aid.
At the start of August, OzHarvest launched a new market in the Sydney suburb of Waterloo, providing vulnerable inner-city residents with much-needed essentials for a price they can afford.
Open Friday to Monday, the grocery averages 300 customers a day.
Normally, the food would come from the charity’s corporate and hospitality sponsors, who donate food that otherwise goes to landfill.
But for now, all the produce sitting on the market’s shelves will be purchased using government funding and grants, including $1 million from the City of Sydney.
OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn AO said in its 16-year history, the charity has never needed to buy food before, and they have never been so reliant on government funding.
“Some of our funders and partners are in the hospitality and the tourism industry, which are all industries that have been so significantly hit during COVID-19,” Kahn said.
“Our family of partners has stayed really strong but there definitely have been businesses that have been affected, which then affects the level of support that they can give us.”
The drop off in corporate support has come at a time when demand has never been higher, prompting the charity to turn to government for support.
She said that in pre-COVID times, government funding only ever made up between 3 and 6 per cent of the organisation’s total funding, but it’s now the organisation’s main stream of income.
One significant boost was back in April, when food relief providers Foodbank Australia, SecondBite and OzHarvest shared $16 million to help with food supplies, transport options and staffing needs after the sector experienced a sharp increase in demand and declining donation levels.
Kahn said while these funding packages have been a welcome relief, the need for food aid wasn’t going away anytime soon and the government needed to ensure that there were resilient funding streams in place well into the future.
“The fact that unemployment has risen by 7.4 per cent means there’s a whole new tranche of people who’ve never needed food before,” she said.
“There’s plenty of food out there and we absolutely have to ensure that there are resilient funding streams to ensure that our food relief can continue so that we can meet the ongoing demand.”
This article previously stated the Waterloo Grocery was open Monday to Friday. This information is incorrect and was updated on 25 August to say the grocery is open Friday to Monday.