• Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite say the government’s failure to allocate an additional $45 million per year to the sector in the 2023 budget is “devastating”.
    Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite say the government’s failure to allocate an additional $45 million per year to the sector in the 2023 budget is “devastating”.
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Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite say the government’s failure to allocate an additional $45 million per year to the sector in the 2023 budget is “devastating”.

The three agencies, Australia’s largest food relief organisations, have expressed their disappointment the funding was not included as part of the suite of measures announced to ease cost of living pressures.

Their call for the establishment of rapidly disbursable, stand-by funding to assist with natural disasters mitigation, preparedness, and resilience was also ignored.

Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey said the food relief sector acknowledged and welcomed the increase to the rates of JobSeeker and related payments, but not a single cent was allocated to food relief.

“The cost-of-living crisis has forced people to make impossible choices about where their last dollars go each week, and for many, food has become a discretionary item in the household budget.

“It is galling that in a surplus budget no extra money could be found for food relief,” Casey said.

The agencies said the increased cost of housing, food and groceries, energy and other essential services had caused more people to rely on food relief charities than ever before.

“This budget presented an opportunity for the federal government to ‘leave no one behind’,” they said.

OzHarvest CEO Ronnie Kahn said the increase in the number of people impacted by cost-of-living pressures has been mirrored by an unprecedented increase in the number of people seeking urgent assistance from food pantries and other frontline charities – many for the first time.

“This budget presented an opportunity for the federal government to address the historic underfunding of the food relief sector and hand down a wellbeing budget that prioritised the most vulnerable in our communities.

“It is devastating that despite the record increase in demand for food the government couldn’t find any money in the budget to assist the sector to expand its work so less people go to bed hungry,” Khan said.

SecondBite Acting CEO, Lucy Coward said the sector was a key player in ensuring people with food insecurity had nutritious food, and played an integral role in the distribution of food to communities impacted by natural disaster and the pandemic over the past few years.

“Collectively we are unable to meet all the demands for food relief from the community, with rising input costs also impacting frontline charities and food relief providers, making it harder and more costly for us to reach the growing number of people in need of support,” said Coward.

The sector is calling on the federal government to work with the food relief sector “on meaningful ways to meet the increasing demand for food relief, and better ensure we are prepared and able to act promptly in response to future disasters across our community”.

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