August 23, 2014

Guest Post by Gerry Andersen, CEO of Foodbank NSW for Anti-Poverty Week

At some point in life you have probably felt hungry. But imagine that feeling wasn’t for ten minutes before your dinner was ready.  What if it was because there was no dinner that night? For you or your children.

And, then imagine that while you and your children are hungry for food, a basic necessity for human survival, it was rotting in landfill.

This traumatic hardship affects more than two million Australians – more than half of which are children – and this figure could be reduced if perfectly good food wasn’t being thrown away.

Let’s take NSW for example. The state throws away a whopping 1.1 million tonnes of food every year while an average of 680,000 people go to bed hungry each night.

At Foodbank we address this inequity by collecting food that cannot be sold and redistributing it to hunger relief agencies. This may be fresh produce from a farmer who has an oversupply, through to perfectly good packaged foods from major food and grocery manufacturers and retailers; mostly no longer suitable for sale simply because of packaging design changes.

But we need to do more. 

Currently we cannot collect any more food than we do simply because we don’t have enough transport to collect the food or warehouse space to store the food. So it is dumped.

Our 2012 research shows that we are at crisis point with 85 per cent of welfare agencies not meeting the demand for hunger relief. The majority of people in need are probably not who you think. They’re not homeless or unemployed, they’re low-income earners – struggling to feed a family due to rising electricity bills, mortgage repayments and general cost of living.

Not only is this tragic for the hungry, it has detrimental impacts on the environment. Discarded food in landfill creates methane, a gas 25 times worse than carbon dioxide.

It is estimated that nationally, through redistribution, Foodbank each year saves:

  • 19,000 cubic metres from landfill
  • 33 million kg of carbon dioxide emission reduction
  • 1.2 million litres of water
  • 50 million MJ energy saving
  • 28 million kgs of food

Now imagine the environmental benefits if we were able to increase the food we redirect to hungry Australians from 28 million kgs to 50 million kgs? Not to mention improving the lives of the millions of Australians who are going to bed hungry.

Want to hear more or make a donation to Foodbank Australia or your state Foodbank branch? Head to their respective websites at:

Australia: www.foodbank.org.au

NSW: www.foodbanknsw.org.au

QLD: www.foodbankqld.org.au

SA: www.foodbanksa.com.au

Tas: www.foodbank.org.au/tas

Vic: www.foodbankvictoria.org.au

WA: www.foodbankwa.org.au

About Foodbank

Foodbank is the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia. It is a non-denominational, non-profit organisation which acts as a pantry to the charities and community groups who feed the hungry. It was first established in 1992 in NSW and now has a presence in every state and the Northern Territory with distribution centres in all state capitals as well as a number of regional centres. We operate with a staff of approximately 90 employees and over 3,000 volunteers.

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Comments

  1. Don Batty says:

    I am so proud of you guys, doing what you do.

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