Food relief: how to get help when you need it, and how to help when you can

Whether heating your home, keeping the lights on, feeding your family, or simply getting to work – these once ordinary moments have become incredible pressure points for Australian families.
 
“We are seeing an extraordinary increase in demand for food relief, more than at the height of the pandemic. And so many people are new to this situation and have never had to Google ‘food relief’ before,” explains Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey.
 
The national food and hunger charity is currently assisting more than one million Australians a month, but as the Foodbank Hunger Report 2021 uncovered, more than one in three food insecure Australians (38%) are not seeking food relief.
 
Brianna says the message is that help is available. “One of the silver linings of the pandemic is there’s no shame or stigma attached to finding yourself in a precarious situation. We have a renewed empathy as a community for the fact that anyone can find themselves facing tough times,” she says.
 
Whether cost of living pressures, employment issues and the health climate in terms of COVID and influenza, Brianna recognises this is an incredibly difficult time for many people.
 
“We want food to be one less thing to worry about. It’s an absolute joy that the act of sharing a meal and being able to feed your family can be that bright spot in an otherwise bleak period,” she says.

Finding a frontline charity like Foodbank or others locally, that can direct you to wrap-around support measures like rental payment relief or access to financial counselling is an important first step, Brianna explains.


If you or someone you know has found themselves under food stress, here is where and how to seek help.

Foodbank

Foodbank is Australia’s largest hunger relief charity, operating in every state and territory.  It is the pantry to the charity sector, linking surplus food and groceries to people in need. Delivering food through a network of almost 3,000 charities across the country or going direct to community with relief like pantry hampers, the Foodbank website is geo-located so will serve you relevant results. Visit foodbank.org.au, otherwise follow Foodbank social media accounts for local updates.

Sanitarium is proud to be a long-standing national partner of Foodbank. Through our partnership, in 2021 alone, Sanitarium have donated 187,600 meals for people experiencing hardship and worked with like-minded people in our Collaborative Supply Program to provide 65,550 kilograms of cereal. These food donations are dispersed through the Foodbank network nationally to over 2950 charities and 2890 schools for their school breakfast programs.


Ask Izzy

Connecting people in crisis with the services they need right now, Ask Izzy provides localised answers to things like food support, bill relief, domestic violence support, counselling or more. Visit askizzy.org.au.
 

OzHarvest

Australia’s leading perishable food rescue organisation, OzHarvest feeds vulnerable people across Australia with fresh nourishing surplus food that was otherwise destined for landfill. Visit ozharvest.org and type your postcode into the search bar to find food relief in your area.
 

Health Direct

The government-funded virtual health service offers a postcode-searchable function for food relief services – just type “food relief” into the search bar and enter your location. You can then get in contact with services like Meals On Wheels, or those provided by local churches or community centres. Visit healthdirect.gov.au/.
 

Breakfast clubs

For families with school-aged children struggling to put food on the table, check if your child’s school hosts a breakfast club. Breakfast clubs are typically run by volunteers from the school community, and provide a safe, warm and welcoming place where kids can receive a nutritious breakfast to start their day before school. Typical breakfast foods on offer include things like Weet-Bix, toast and spreads, milk, juice and fruit which they source free-of-charge from Foodbank or local food relief organisations, like KickStart for Kids in South Australia. 
 

How to help if you can

 
Brianna says at Foodbank, contributions are always welcome, with their approach to donations being the three Ts.
 
Time: Volunteer your time in a partner charity or distribution warehouse.
 
Talent: Accountant looking for a passion project? Do you have a heavy vehicle licence that’s never used? A social media whizz with some extra time? Any skills or expertise can be donated.
 
Treasure: While food donations might seem like the obvious choice, financial contributions are preferred explains Brianna, with every dollar donated to Foodbank stretched through partnerships to create two meals. “We can get more impact, and culturally appropriate nutritious foods when we get financial donations over product.” If you’re still looking to donate product, check the Foodbank website to see what’s in demand. 


Check out our collection of simple, healthy and budget-friendly family meals, all under $3 per serve, using common food pantry staples such as canned foods and frozen vegetables!

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