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Foodbank WA is one of three essential Western Australian community organisations to receive part of the $9.1 million in funding from WA resources companies, as part of the COVID-19 Community Support Initiative set up by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia.
Even before the arrival of COVID-19, food insecurity was a daily reality for tens of thousands of Western Australians. The pandemic has since disrupted every aspect of ordinary life, and an increasing number of people have found themselves in an unprecedented situation where they cannot afford to buy enough food to eat.
Nationally, Foodbank not only plays a leading role in fighting hunger, but is also vitally important in tackling Australia's $20 billion food waste problem while helping the environment.
According to the national 2019 Foodbank Hunger Report, people with a history of personal hardship are more vulnerable to food insecurity. In 2019, 70% of Australians experiencing food insecurity had been unable to find a job for an extended period of time and 42% had been living on a low income or pension. With many people across Western Australia struggling because of government restrictions, as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19, Foodbank WA's services are needed now more than ever.
Foodbank WA's key response to the impacts of COVID-19 was to provide Emergency Food Relief hampers to those struggling the most. The WA resources sector donated more than $3 million to Foodbank WA through the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia (CMEWA). This additional funding helped Foodbank WA provide food and groceries to people across the State, while CMEWA members also volunteered their time to help pack the Emergency Food Relief hampers.
Chief Executive Officer Greg Hebble said Foodbank WA were able to meet the challenges imposed by COVID-19 thanks to support from the resources sector.
"We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of CMEWA COVID-19 Community Support Initiative as it has helped us continue to operate through these testing and uncertain times and to purchase essential food and groceries to pack and distribute COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Hampers."
COVID-19 is affecting every demographic group and at Foodbank WA, they are working hard to eliminate hunger and improve food security in the community. As such, Foodbank WA have stated that they are not prioritising support to any one particular charity or demographic group.
"We've completely transformed our warehouse and have daily teams of 30-40 volunteers packing hampers, it's a mass production line to create the relief hampers, packing almost 5,000 a week," said Mr Hebble.
"The COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief hampers are filled with shelf stable food products for easy transportation, storage and nutritional consumption, which will better meet the rapidly rising need for food across metro, regional and remote communities."
The hampers have already been distributed across the Perth metro area, as far North as Onslow and south to Albany to identified communities outside of Foodbank WA's current welfare agency network.
"This has been the most challenging time in our 25 year history, however it has been wonderful to see that community spirit is strong here in Western Australia. With the ongoing support of our incredible partners and supporters, we will continue to be there to provide dignity and food to the growing number of people in crisis," Mr Hebble concluded.
While the immediate health risk has eased here in Western Australia, the economic and social impacts will be long lasting. Foodbank WA is expecting to see a steep rise in the number of people needing food assistance once the government stimulus and support packages finish as indicated at the end of September.
The COVID-19 Community Support Initiative, supported by Gold Industry Group members AngloGold Ashanti Australia, Gold Fields, Gold Road Resources, Newcrest Mining, Newmont Australia, Ramelius Resources, Regis Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings, has ensured that no Western Australian will go hungry during this pandemic and will have ultimately saved lives.