Here Brianna Casey, CEO, Foodbank Australia responds to ‘Successful failures: the problem with food banks‘.
A recent opinion piece published in The Conversation highlights the increasing demand for food relief through food banks globally, as well as in Australia, and the need for greater government action in addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity and food waste in society.
Unfortunately, the authors have failed to recognise the sophistication of the Australian foodbanking model led by Foodbank Australia, where food is not only “rescued”, but also proactively manufactured to ensure key staple products are regularly available for food recipients across the country.
In most instances, the mix of food provided to recipients via Foodbank Australia’s network of 2,600 charities, is often more balanced than an average Australian family’s shopping basket, particularly in terms of the proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is made possible by the generous farmers across Australia who not only donate surplus produce that might not meet cosmetic standards, but also proactively donate large amounts of first grade fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, our organisation partners with the entire supply chain in its Collaborative Supply Program to ensure key staple foods, including pasta, pasta sauce, breakfast cereal, and sausages, are available for distribution year-round.
Far from providing “food waste” to its food recipients as the author suggests, Foodbank Australia is proud to be providing fresh, nutritious food to Australians who otherwise might have gone without. We are disappointed to see the authors refer to the vitally important food and grocery items they provide as being “food waste”. In fact, these food and grocery items only become waste when they end up in landfill, which our organisation prevents from happening. Additionally, we work closely with a team of food scientists to ensure that the food safety standards are maintained and adhered to, to ensure food safety is not compromised.
Does Australia need to be doing more to address the issue of food insecurity? Absolutely. Are food banks the only solution? Not at all – but food banks play a vitally important role in serving the needs of those who struggle to put a meal on the table, or fruit in their children’s lunch boxes, until the underlying issues causing food insecurity in our country are addressed. You can help Foodbank Australia call for more government action by signing this petition on change.org.au.