With calls for an extra $45 million for food relief programs and a proposal for rapidly disbursable stand-by funding for disaster relief ignored in the recent federal budget, the sector is turning to industry partners even more.
Mars Food Australia says it will double its food donation to Foodbank Australia this year, to provide a total of three million meals for people in need. Mars Food provides guarantee quantities for five of their most popular mealtime products from MasterFoods, Dolmio, and Kan Tong cooking sauces to Foodbank Australia.
The majority will be donated through the Foodback Collaborative Supply Program, which is entering its third year. Mars Food and six of its ingredient and packaging partners donate their products and services - Cheetham Salt, Huhtamaki, Ingredion, Kagome, Visy Board, and Visy Glass.
Mars Food Australia general manager Bill Heague said, “A better world tomorrow is one where no one needs to use a food bank. Sadly, that is still not a reality for many Australians today. We are proud of our ongoing partnership with Foodbank to support the work they do to support individuals and families who are struggling with food insecurity and going through difficult times.
“We started the program in 2021 at the height of Covid with an ambition to help provide 600,000 meals to Australians in deed, and last year we doubled that figure to 1.5 million.
“As we enter the third year of our program, we are setting the bold ambition to again double that donation as we aim to help provide three million healthy meals. None of this would be possible without our supplier partners and we are grateful for their ongoing support and contribution to make a difference to Australians in need.”
Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey said the Foodbank Hunger Report 2022 found more than two million households in Australia (21 per cent) had experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.
“On any given day in Australians more than half a million households are struggling to put a meal on the table. Sadly, Children are being hit hardest with 1.3 million children living in severely food insecure households,” Casey said.
She said the collaboration with Mars Food was “fantastic” because it enables Foodbank warehouses across the country to have a steady supply of key staples.
“Generally, at Foodbank we work with a ‘surprise chain’ - relying on ad hoc donations and unpredictable food rescue opportunities - but with programs such as this, we can work with a predictable and reliable ‘supply chain’,” Casey said.
After Budget 2023 was delivered, Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite expressed their shock and devastation that not only had their request for an additional $45 million for the food relief sector been rejected, so too had its proposal to establish a stand-by fund that could be rapidly disbursed in the event of a natural disaster.
“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.
In Australia, Foodbank works with 2625 frontline charities and 2890 school breakfast programs to get over 82 million meals out to those who could use a hand.