COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians

by Foodbank Australia Limited
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians
COVID19: Food relief for vulnerable Australians

Australia has a hunger problem, but we have a solution.

Our country produces enough food for 75 million people per year, enough to feed our entire population three times over, yet we have a significant hunger problem.

The Foodbank Hunger Report 2021 released in October revealed one in six adults and 1.2 million children in Australia went hungry last year. How can this be?

Food Insecurity and COVID 19

The hunger problem in our country isn’t new. Foodbank has been tracking food insecurity in Australia since 2012 and whilst the root causes vary, what has been a constant throughout is the diversity of people touched by this issue. Food relief is not only being sought out by those who are homeless and unemployed, but also working families, refugees, single parents, school leavers, First Nations People and many more.

Covid-19 has helped shine a spotlight on the prevalence of food insecurity in Australia, and just how quickly job security, housing security and financial security can be eroded. Most of us know someone who has lost their job, had their hours dramatically reduced, or found themselves in financial difficulty in the last two years. In fact, one in three people struggling to meet their food needs are new to the situation. These people will look back on this period as the toughest time they’ve ever faced, and remember what it was like to be forced to make a decision between buying food or paying the electricity bill, because they couldn’t afford to do both.

For others, the pandemic served only to highlight the harsh realities of poverty and inequality in Australia. We know that those struggling before the pandemic have been hit the hardest and will find it the hardest to recover. We know that government assistance measures like the Coronavirus Supplement and COVID disaster payments made a material difference to the lives of vulnerable Australians. We also know that dramatically increasing support for Emergency Relief and Food Relief providers made a huge difference, allowing us to redouble our efforts to support vulnerable people right across Australia, from international students to the recently unemployed to single parent families and everyone in between. 

The pandemic has been the great leveler. In some ways it has reduced the shame and stigma of asking for help whether it be for food relief, mental health or physical health. We are seeing a paradigm shift from shame, embarrassment and guilt, to compassion, empathy and ultimately hope.

The great ‘pivot’

Not only has COVID-19 affected demand for food relief, but also the way in which food relief and emergency relief providers respond to people in crisis. To borrow one of the most over-used words in the pandemic, Foodbanks right across the country had to pivot from existing models of distributing food relief via a network of thousands of frontline agencies and a small number of client-facing Foodbank hubs, to mobile foodbanks, pop-up markets and a strong reliance on emergency relief hampers. Pop up stores organised by Foodbank Victoria and funded by the Victorian government provided free fresh fruit and vegetables, and culturally appropriate staple products for the many international students trying to make ends meet without casual employment. Foodbank NSW & ACT worked with the NSW Government to provide hampers to international students on university campuses across the state and to ensure those in hard lockdowns had access to hampers

to sustain their families through extended isolation. Foodbank South Australia introduced home-delivery, made an even more positive experience when those deliveries were conducted by the likes of Port Adelaide Football Club players!

Supply vs demand

Foodbank is now providing relief to more than 1 million people per month through a network of 2,950 front-line charities, with Foodbanks across the country also supporting 2,890 schools through highly successful initiatives such as School Breakfast Programs.

In 2021, we sourced 48.1 million kilograms of food and groceries, equating to 241,000 meals per day. This is a staggering volume of food relief given the supply chain constraints experienced at various points throughout the pandemic, especially given the periods of highest demand for food relief often coincided with periods of reduced supply, whether a result of panic-buying or workforce shortages or natural disasters. We would not have been able to maintain our supply in the face of adversity without enduring partnerships and the strong support of those who trust us to do what we do best.

Foodbank works with the entire Australian food and grocery industry - farmers, wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers, plus our invaluable transport and logistics providers, to source fresh and manufactured foods as well as personal and household care items for those in need. Donations can include stock that doesn’t meet industry specifications, is close to expiry or surplus, and we also see many companies make proactive donations as a key plank of their corporate social responsibility commitments. The food and grocery industry may specialise in supply chains, but we specialise in surprise chains. No two days are alike when it comes to the quantity or variety of supply, but every product is appreciated.

Supply Chain Resilience

Whilst we pride ourselves in our planning, preparedness, partnerships and resilience, we are as vulnerable as anyone else when it comes to the fragility of our supply chains in Australia. Supply chain disruption doesn't only affect commercial supply; it affects Foodbank too. We have seen just how disastrous the knock-on effects of natural disasters can be on our supply chains. The recent South Australian floods saw both road and rail access from SA into the Northern Territory and Western Australia completely severed. This had a devastating impact on our ability to get fresh produce and key staples from Foodbank SA to the Foodbank Central Australia Hub in Alice Springs. We worked closely with state, territory and federal governments – as well as industry – on solutions to ensure vital food could be delivered to remote communities across Central Australia. As always, we worked hard to ensure vulnerable communities were not forgotten during this crisis, just as we do in every crisis.

The Future

We are so proud of the role we play in helping vulnerable Australians, and so grateful for the invaluable support we receive to enable us to do this. Our experience with natural disasters tells us it will be a long road to recovery, but we must not forget the new perspective we have gained through this pandemic. The circumstances that put people into food insecurity before the virus will still be with us and food relief will remain a critically important part of the solution.


Without your kind support we would simply not be able to make critical food supply available to people in need. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Together, we'll make sure no-one gets left behind.


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Dear Supporters,

Thank you so much for your support of Foodbank. Here is a quick update on the Foodbank Hunger Report 2021.

Foodbank has now released its annual Hunger Report. It provides a snapshot of the prevalence and depth of hunger in Australia as well as insights into the day-to-day experience of people in our community who are doing it tough.

Alarmingly, the report shows that one in six Australian adults haven’t had enough to eat in the last year and, even more shockingly, 1.2 million children have gone hungry. Additionally, more than half of people impacted by severe food insecurity go a whole day every week without eating. Foodbank is now providing food relief to more than a million people each month.

The report, now in its 10th year, highlights that the pandemic continues to deliver challenges that are exacerbating pre-existing challenges in our communities. In addition to those who were already struggling before COVID-19, the pandemic has caused others to experience vulnerability for the first time. In fact, more than one in three of last year’s food insecure Australians (38%) had never been in that position before. 

Moreover, the report highlights that food insecurity is not restricted to the ‘obvious’ vulnerability groups such as homeless people and the unemployed. It shows people of every age, living alone, in families and in groups are susceptible. Food insecurity is shown to affect people in cities right through to those in remote areas and surprisingly, hunger affects more people in some form of employment (64%) than those who have none. 

Despite our best efforts, there are many Australians who still do not have access to the food relief they require.

If you would like to find out more and read Foodbank’s Hunger Report 2021, please click this link.

Once again, on behalf of the Foodbank family, thank you so much for supporting those who are experiencing hunger.

Warm Regards,

Foodbank Australia


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Dear Supporters,

We hope you’re staying safe. 

Thank you for your support! Your donations of over AUD$2,000 in the last quarter enabled Foodbank to provide over 4,000 meals to those in need across Australia. Sincerely, thank you for your generosity. 

Foodbank has faced a surge in demand for food relief in recent months as a result of recurring lockdowns across the country, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria. These levels of restriction have had an impact on businesses and people's ability to earn an income, leaving many people unable to provide for their families. To illustrate, Foodbank has seen a 200% increase in demand for food relief in NSW alone, with over 20,000 requests for food hampers made by international students since the lockdowns began. 

Moreover, the social and health impacts of COVID19 have not gone unfelt. One in five Australians are reporting high levels of psychological distress linked to the COVID19 pandemic, with young people, women, and those living with disabilities being the most affected. Additionally, a report issued by the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS) showed that online searches in NSW for emergency relief services on Ask Izzy (a search engine that provides information on mental health, housing, food, health, domestic and family violence services and more) increased by more than 800% between June 26 and July 14, 2021, once again highlighting the profound impacts of lockdown on communities.

Hunger is a growing stressor in the midst of these challenges. Foodbank is working around the clock to help reduce this stressor on families and individuals, and that food insecure Australians have access to the relief they require while developing their responses to do their best to manage an uncertain future.

On a brighter note, in certain states such as New South Wales, lockdown and restrictions are scheduled to ease in a few weeks from now, with some free movements granted to people. We hope that those impacted by lockdowns, such as those in the hospitality, recreation and events, retail, construction, and beauty industries, will be able to return to work.

Moreover, on Wednesday 20th October, Foodbank will be releasing the Foodbank Hunger Report 2021. Now in its ninth year, this report is considered to be the definitive source on the hunger crisis in Australia. Foodbank will launch an awareness-raising campaign on social media in the coming week to draw attention to the report and the growing hunger crisis it exposes. Please do follow us on socials at this time to learn more!

Once again, on behalf of the Foodbank family, we sincerely thank you for your support and the impact made possible through your generosity. We look forward to working with you further in our fight against hunger.

Warm Regards,

Foodbank Australia Family

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Firstly, thank you for supporting Foodbank.

This is an extremely difficult time for us in Australia.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for food relief as varying degrees of lockdowns and restrictions have happened around the nation, causing businesses to close and people losing their ability to earn an income. For example, in July, when South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales were experiencing lockdowns, there were 13.7 million people (more than half of the population of Australia) in lockdown areas. While South Australia and Victoria are no longer under lockdown, the NSW outbreak has been declared a national emergency, and their lockdown has been extended for another four weeks, bringing the total lockdown for affected residents to two months.

While the lockdowns are necessary to protect people's health, many people's income has unexpectedly dropped to zero. The government's COVID Disaster Payment was only recently made available to people who have lost their jobs and are receiving government assistance. As a result, people are struggling. While the restrictions and lockdowns have increased demand, they have also disrupted supply. Foodbank is collaborating with charity partners and adjusting daily operations to ensure that food reaches those in need as efficiently as possible.

To give you an idea, Foodbank has seen a 37.5 percent increase in food distribution in NSW over the last five weeks. Foodbank is now processing as many hampers per day as they did in a week prior to the lockdown, providing 2,500 – 3,500 emergency relief hampers per day, with over 12,100 emergency relief hampers distributed to lockdown areas throughout Greater Sydney and NSW.

Moreover, on July 23, 2021, the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS) issued a report highlighting the effects of the lockdown on financial distress and food relief. According to the report, online searches in NSW for emergency relief services on Ask Izzy (a search engine which provides information on housing, food, health, government support, domestic and family violence services and more) increased by more than 800 percent between June 26 and July 14, 2021, highlighting the profound impacts of lockdown on communities.

The need to alleviate hunger is an ever-increasing demand, with 13.6 percent of Australians currently living below the poverty line and facing growing financial hardship as a result of current lockdowns and the ongoing effects of COVID19.

Foodbank will continue to bulk purchase and prepare for ongoing influxes of demand for food relief in the coming months. We know from experience that during crises like these, the long-term recovery phase is just as important as addressing the immediate need; Foodbank will ensure that those in need have access to food and groceries for as long as they require it.

Once again, we sincerely thank you for your support and the impact made possible through your generosity on behalf of the Foodbank family. We look forward to working with you further in our fight against hunger.

For more information, please visit

Warm Regards,

Foodbank Australia Family

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Dear Supporters,

Happy Easter!

I hope you all were able to have a break and gather with your family and/or friends in person or virtually.

In Australia, the Federal Government recently declared a state of natural disaster as many parts of NSW and QLD were experiencing extreme rainfall and flooding a couple of weeks ago. In NSW, more than 18,000 people were evacuated, and hundreds of schools were closed due to the extreme weather conditions. Additionally, as the Federal Government’s financial supplement packages, JobSeeker and JobKeeper were withdrawn at the end of March 2021, Foodbank anticipates an increase in demand for food relief, as we believe the flooding emergency as well as the removal of the stimulus packages will greatly impact the food security landscape.

A couple of weeks ago, Foodbank NSW & ACT was distributing emergency food relief hampers safely under the instruction of government agencies and officials, utilising both helicopters and barges to access isolated areas. We will continue to work closely with local communities and local agencies to ensure the right products are made available at the right time and to assist them with the lengthy recovery phase.

Although the rain may have eased for now, the emergency isn’t over for many.

Moreover, the removal of additional, targeted financial support (JobSeeker and JobKeeper) for those who were having the toughest time seeking work, or who work in businesses experiencing significant downturn arising from COVID19, will push more than 740,000 Australians into poverty. The impacts of this will not only be seen on recipients’ ability to cover essential costs such as transport, medical, and utilities, but other aspects of household budgeting which are paramount, such as purchasing food and having access to affordable housing.

Economists from Commonwealth Bank of Australia predict that the withdrawal of the JobKeeper assistance package is forecasted to see job losses of up to 10% in retail trade and education, whilst other industries such as construction and professional services are forecasted to experience a 5% loss in employment.

This will have devastating impacts on the current landscape which is characterised by an unemployment rate of 5.8%; (a surprising drop from 6.3% reported in January 2021). Recent data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that employment to population ratio had increased by 62.3% prior to the removal of the stimulus packages.

Ultimately, the reported rates of unemployment are not a true representation of what the landscape will be in coming weeks now that the stimulus packages have been removed. The flow on affects from removing JobSeeker and JobKeeper will see a loss of purchase demand, decline in economic stimulation and stability and loss of employment nationwide.

Foodbank anticipates that the devastation caused by the floods as well as the removal of the stimulus packages will have a significant impact on our food and grocery stock levels as more people will turn to food relief organisations. Although, we find ourselves well-equipped with sufficient staple products currently, the uncertainty that is evident will require Foodbank to continue to purchase critical food and grocery items in substantial volumes, to ensure stocks are consistently replenished to address ongoing influxes in the demand for food relief.  

Once again, on behalf of the Foodbank family, we sincerely thank you for your support and the impact made possible through your generosity. We look forward to working with you further in our fight against hunger.

Warm Regards,


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Foodbank Australia Limited

Location: North Ryde, NSW - Australia
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FoodbankAus
Project Leader:
Sindy Dupagunta
North Ryde, NSW Australia
$10,407 raised of $30,000 goal
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