• Coles site manager Taree Ben Elliot donating goods to Lansdown Bushfire Brigade.
    Coles site manager Taree Ben Elliot donating goods to Lansdown Bushfire Brigade.
  • Hive + Wellness CEO Ryan d’Almeida with the Capilano Drought and Bushfire Relief pack.
    Hive + Wellness CEO Ryan d’Almeida with the Capilano Drought and Bushfire Relief pack.
  • The team from Coles Batemans Bay meeting with Rural Fire Service firies with donations.
    The team from Coles Batemans Bay meeting with Rural Fire Service firies with donations.
  • 20 cents from each 375g jar of Capilano honey will go to Hive Aid.
    20 cents from each 375g jar of Capilano honey will go to Hive Aid.

Australian food and beverage manufacturers have stepped-up to provide donations and financial support in the wake of the 2019-2020 bushfire disaster.

Coca-Cola Amatil has provided water and beverages to those fighting and affected by fires and on Monday announced financial relief. Support includes:

  • $1 million from The Coca-Cola Foundation for The Salvation Army’s immediate disaster relief efforts in fire-affected communities;
  • $250,000 from Coca-Cola Australia for the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Authority Victoria, and the South Australian Country Fire Service Foundation; and
  • Up to $375,000 from Coca-Cola Amatil in the form of employee matched giving to all registered charities, donated beverages and financial support for small business customers impacted in fire-affected zones.

Amatil had already donated 10,400 cases of water and Powerade – totalling at least 250,000 bottles – to bushfire emergency crews, and families in disaster recovery centres or have been evacuated from NSW, SA, and Victorian fire zones.

Amatil managing director Peter West said businesses should do their part in helping out at a time of national crisis. “Business has a role to play in emergency situations, alongside government and others in the community.

“Bottling and distribution are our strengths, so we think we can play an effective role with donations of water and other beverages to displaced families and those on the front line,” he said.

Amatil has also established a matched giving appeal, matching donations made by its employees, with the Salvation Army.

JBS supports trust for children

Leading meat processing and food manufacturer JBS Australia has donated $1 million to the Australian Volunteer Trust, a permanent ongoing fund to support children of volunteers who have died fighting the recent fires as well as any future disasters.

The trust was established by the Business Council of Australia in partnership with Equity Trustees.

JBS CEO Brent Eastwood said the fires have devastated communities across mainland Eastern States

“Through our business we have a direct contact and long-term relationships with many livestock producers and communities in these affected areas.

“As a member of the Business Council we are right behind this Initiative and see it as an important way to acknowledge the role and sacrifices made by volunteers in the hard work they undertake and dangers they face in combating natural disasters.

“As the CEO of a business employing over 12,000 people across five states, we understand the importance of a safe working environment and making sure our people go home to their families in the same way they arrived at work,” Eastwood said.

“Unfortunately, we have seen with these fires and other recent natural disasters such as floods, there are times when volunteer lives are lost in the line of duty and families are forever impacted.

“The Trust represents a vehicle to support these families and especially the children of these volunteers through their education.”

Coles donates across four states, matches customer donations

Coles has donated more than $3m in gift cards to 6000 rural fire brigades across Australia to stock up on essentials or host thank-you events for their members. CEO Steven Cain said the donations were a way of acknowledging the courage and dedication of volunteer firefighters battling to save homes and communities.

“As fires continue to burn across the country, tens of thousands of firefighters across Australia are volunteering their time to keep our communities safe. Some are based in fire-affected areas while others are travelling across borders and to other regions to help protect communities away from home,” Cain said.

Coles also collected donations from customers to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. For every dollar raised ($522,010) Coles donated $2, raising more than $1.5 million for the fund.

The majority of permanent Coles team members already have access to unlimited paid leave to participate in emergency response efforts under their enterprise agreements. It has also increased the paid emergency services leave available for other permanent team members to 20 days.

Some of Coles' donations were: In , Coles donated:

  • 20 pallets containing UHT milk and long-life food essentials to the New South Wales Government, which have been dispatched to Merimbula and Eden;
  • 37 pallets of food and essentials to Foodbank in Sydney for distribution to the Cobargo, Bega and Bermagui evacuation centres;
  • four pallets of fruit and vegetables for animals at the Mogo Zoo near Batemans Bay;
  • 20 pallets of water to RAAF Sale for distribution to emergency services and relief centres;
  • 10 pallets of food and essentials to Foodbank, which was distributed to emergency centres in Gippsland; and
  • bread, long life milk, shampoo and other essentials, with many team members volunteering their time in community halls and donating clothing in Clyde North and Bairnsdale

Woolworths helps fire-affected school communities

Woolworths supermarkets and Big W stores have pledged at least $200,000 in gift vouchers to help schools support local families and communities impacted by bushfires as children return to school.

The donation will see at least $1000 in BIG W and $1000 in Woolworths Supermarket vouchers to the approximate 100 schools affected by the fires. The schools will be free to use the gift vouchers to support students and their families in line with local needs.

Woolworths Supermarkets MD Claire Peters said; “This donation provides additional support from the Woolworths Group to communities impacted by bushfires.

“With kids heading back to school soon, we hope that the gift vouchers will help schools have the right support locally to lighten the burden for families in these regions during this challenging time.”

So far, Woolworths Group and its customers have committed more than $3 million:

  • More than $1 million directly to Woolworths store teams in bushfire impacted communities across Australia to help them provide tangible support on the ground to local rural fire crews, charities and customers impacted by bushfires in their local community.
  • $1.7 million in customer donations to the S.T.A.N.D (Support Through Australian Natural Disasters) Salvation Army bushfire appeal.
  • $500,000 additional investment by the Woolworths Group into the S.T.A.N.D (Support Through Australian Natural Disasters) partnership with The Salvation Army.
  • BIG W has donated essential household goods and clothing to Good360 to help provide support to charities providing relief to those impacted by the bushfires.
  • Woolworths and BIG W have also supported the shipment of essential items to at least 12 evacuation centres in various parts of the country over the past few weeks.

Woolworths Group also extended paid leave entitlements to four weeks for Enterprise Agreement team members who volunteer for rural fire services.

CEO Brad Banducci said this applies both to salaried staff, who already had uncapped paid leave for voluntary firefighting subject to approval after four weeks, and to those on enterprise agreements, who have had their entitlement raised from two weeks.

Beekeepers not forgotten in Rural Aid campaign

Hive + Wellness, the company behind Capilano honey, has launched a special Drought and Bushfire Relief Capilano Honey Pack. CEO Ryan d’Almeida said 20 cents from each 340 gram pack sold will go directly to struggling beekeepers through Rural Aid charity's Hive Aid campaign.

The company has joined with Rural Aid and the peak industry body, The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), to launch Hive Aid, a drought and bushfire relief campaign aimed specifically at struggling beekeepers. Donations to Hive Aid can be made at www.ruralaid.org.au/hiveaid.

Hive + Wellness sources honey from over half the country’s 1500 professional beekeepers for its Capilano brand. The company is the largest honey packer, marketer and supporter of beekeepers in Australia.

 “It is no secret that 2019 was an extremely difficult year for beekeepers across the country, particularly those affected by the worst of the drought and bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland.

“The situation is not one we can turn around easily, with drought conditions still prevailing across much of the typical beekeeping countryside, and some areas unlikely to recover for years. Bushfires, which are causing such devastation around the country, have a cruel impact on wildlife and that includes our vital honey bee population.”

The contribution of honey bees to agriculture in Australia through pollination services is estimated at up to $20 billion. Bees are responsible for the pollination of around two thirds of all food crops in Australia. Some crops are very dependent and others less so on pollination. Almonds, avocado and blueberry crops have a 100 per cent dependency. Cucumbers, mangoes, apples and pumpkin are around 90-100 per cent, d’Almeida said.

“I know that many Australians are concerned about what our farmers and beekeepers are experiencing. Our Drought and Bushfire Relief honey is a very practical way they can help, while also enjoying the taste of pure Australian honey.”

Arnott’s is donating $350,000 to help those who have been impacted. This will include $250,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Recovery fund, and a $100,000 product donation, which will be distributed by Foodbank to evacuation centres, displaced communities and front-line services in fire-affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Tetra Laval, the parent company of Tetra Pak, is donating €350,000 ($566,000) to bushfire relief. Tetra Pak and DeLaval will work to coordinate aid and relief for affected areas through various support channels, with a portion of the funds going as a cash donation to the Red Cross.

DeLaval will also support dairy farmers as they recover and Tetra Pak will work with Sanitarium and Slades Beverages to distribute water and milk products to New South Wales and Victorian bushfire victims.

Foodmach will support the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, and will match staff donations dollar for dollar. Earle Roberts, CEO, said the thoughts of the Foodmach team are with the victims.

“At a time like this, all Australians need to pull together. We take our responsibility to our regional communities seriously.

“We all need to pitch in to help solve the critical issues. Foodmach has invested heavily in solar power and has applied lean manufacturing principles to the entire organisation. Over the longer term, we will be taking actions to further reduce our carbon footprint,” said Roberts.

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