As the demand for food relief increases, South Australian organisations receive much-needed Government funding. (Image Source: The Daily Telegraph)
By Chelsea Shepherd | @Chelsea15183902
The South Australian Government has announced $1.6 million worth of funding to support the vital work of charities such as Foodbank, OzHarvest , the Salvation Army and more.
In an effort to boost food relief, OzHarvest, SecondBite and Meals On Wheels SA will receive approximately $300,000 of the $1.6 million.
The funding boost from the Liberal Government is set to be spent over the next three months and comes as a part of the Government’s plan to protect South Australians from the financial and physical impact of COVID-19.
The funding aims to ensure that organisations that provide important services to South Australians have the support they need from the Government.
Greg Pattinson, Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank SA, said Foodbank heavily relies on the work of volunteers.
“With many of our volunteers being older than 70 and classified as vulnerable under the COVID-19 restrictions, we need to recruit able-bodied volunteers to support our services.”
Foodbank SA supports approximately 126,000 South Australians who need food relief each year but demand for services has significantly increased due to both the Australian Bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are also supporting those in the regions impacted by bush fires with their ongoing food relief requirements and now the referrals for our food relief services have seen an unprecedented level of growth as a result of the impacts of COVID-19,” he said.
Annie Tonkin, the brand and communications executive at OzHarvest said the much-needed funding will allow the organisation to devote more time and money to provide food relief to charities and customers who need it the most.
“There is a huge increase in demand as more people have lost their jobs and are now on welfare,” Ms Tonkin said.
“Approximately 5 million Australians each year suffer from food insecurity.
“This number has increased significantly due to the bushfires and flooding earlier in the year and now COVID-19.”
Panic buying and social-isolation have also fuelled the demand for food relief services as it is making it harder for the vulnerable and elderly to get the food they desperately need.
“Those in self-isolation cannot get to the supermarket or be able to access the basics as panic buying has left the shelves bare,” Ms Tonkin said.
“Our priority is to get good food to as many people in need as we can.”
In addition to assisting with vulnerable South Australians, OzHarvest also supports almost 1300 charitable organisations across Australia.
During this time, many of these charities have had to close due to a lack of funding and some have closed due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 within their organisations.
“Aged care, church lead and community charities can no longer run community meals or open their centres as the virus is a much higher risk for older people,” Ms Tonkin said
“Homeless services who may usually operate soup kitchens can no longer operate and clients are having to travel further to find support and other services.”
In order to account for the rise in Australians needing food relief, OzHarvest is making 5500 nutritious ready to eat meals, which are also delivered to the charities they support in addition to the 57 vans that go out to South Australians every day.
In the wake of major business closures throughout Australia, businesses such as Virgin Airlines have been able to assist food relief organisations like OzHarvest by donating 6000 meals from their airport lounges.
Mr Brendan Lonegran, the Chief Executive officer of Beehive (a charity aimed at supporting senior citizens, people experiencing long term unemployment and people living with a disability) has announced they have changed their business model.
“Instead of closing down, we changed our model in less than two days and are now feeding our clients with home-delivered grocery bags packed with OzHarvest food,” he said.
Despite the financial hardship many Australians are currently facing, the best way that the public can assist organisations such as Foodbank and OzHarvest is through donations.
Every $1 raised by Foodbank and OzHarvest goes to buying two meals for those in need.