Foodbank plays a critical role in disaster response and recovery, providing emergency food relief to Victorian communities.
Utilising its significant network of trusted local and national partners, Foodbank can quickly pull together the resources needed to provide and deliver food and water to impacted communities during disasters.
But what does this mean on a practical level?
Foodbank Victoria CEO Dave McNamara said the not-for-profit organisation had a network of 460 partners and an extensive team of volunteers at the ready, as well as a 11,000sqm warehouse full of all the essentials including cereal, pasta and fresh and frozen foods.
“In a disaster we look at what the community needs. During Black Saturday, there was a high need for water, so we connected with Coca Cola, one of our partners, to get 48 pallets of water delivered to relief centres, on the front line and for people to use,’’ he said.
“There were also a number of single parents that didn’t have access to formula for their children so we worked with Nestle to get formula to those families in need.
“We have a logistics fleet fitted with refrigerators and freezers so we can deliver quickly and deliver whole of kitchen requirements.’’
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said Foodbank was integral to Victoria’s emergency management system, connecting communities, government, agencies and business together.
“One of the most important things is that Foodbank has got a fantastic network of how to get food brought together and then distributed across Victoria, and that is something very special,’’ he said.
“It operates every day of the week, 365 days of the year and that’s what we need to do to make sure that when we need relief support in an emergency that it’s using current networks, current, systems that are well established and connect back into the community.’’
Foodbank also provides services to metro and remote communities to assist the one in 10 Victorians who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“People think that hunger is an issue isolated to Africa or homeless people on the street; it’s not,’’ Dave said.
“Hunger is felt by everyday families, people like you or I, who have ended up where they are because they made some poor decisions or ended up in financial trouble.’’
Foodbank works with welfare agencies to help deliver their food programs, along with a range of services including financial advice, community connection, welfare services and personal support.
“We also rescue food that is not aesthetically pleasing, but edible and provide it to communities through our pop-up farmers markets which provide fresh produce and dairy to those most in need,’’ he said.
“It provides a communal environment, taking away the stigma associated with not being able to feed your family and connects them to welfare support that can help to understand the issue and resolve the problem.’’