Farmers keep Foodbank stocked as cost of living drives up demand before Christmas

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

Thanks to donors and volunteers, each year Foodbank in Western Australia provides around 8 million meals to families who struggle to afford food.

A Foodbank report from October 2022 showed the rising cost of living was the primary cause of more than 2 million households across the nation experiencing severe food insecurity in the last year.

In Western Australia, between the south-west towns of Harvey and Pemberton, there are 26 growers who regularly donate fresh produce to the organisation.

The donations are seasonal, ranging from potatoes, carrots and broccoli to tomatoes, avocados and sometimes blueberries.

Pemberton avocado producer Suzie Delroy said her family had been donating unsellable fruit to the organisation for the last five years.

“We think it’s a really great cause,” she said.

“If these avocados weren’t going to Foodbank, they’d be coming back onto our farm and tipped into our dams to feed our marron.

“We put so much effort into growing these beautiful avocados and we don’t want to see them wasted.”

Harvey Fresh — owned by Lactalis — has donated an average of 45 pallets, or 50,000 litres, of long-life milk to the organisation since 2011.

Brothers and business partners Tony and Joe Angi own a dairy farm in Yarloop, around 130 kilometres south of Perth.

As suppliers to Harvey Fresh, the pair said they were proud to be a part of the initiative.

“I think we all are, as a family business,” Tony said.

“We’re pretty passionate about what we do and to know Harvey Fresh are sending milk to Foodbank makes us even more proud.”

Downturn in donations

The pandemic has resulted in high levels of inflation, cost of living increases and challenges accessing labour — all of which have affected the volume of food donated to Foodbank.

There has been a 75 per cent downturn in fresh produce donations to Foodbank in Bunbury in the last year, predominantly due to the worker shortage impacting growers’ ability to harvest all their produce.

In order to stay viable, some apple farmers have opted to juice their fruit to sell to supermarkets rather than donate to food charities.

But Manjimup apple grower Vick Grizotis has continued sending undersized fruit to Foodbank for the last six years.

“The amount we send varies, but on average we send a bin per fortnight,” he said.

“After talking to some of the guys at Foodbank, you get to realise what’s happening out there in the community.

“There are people, particularly at this time of the year, who are struggling.

“Once you start, you realise that there’s a real need for it.”

Fresh food needed

Of the six Foodbank warehouses in Western Australia, the Bunbury branch is the main supplier and distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables to families across the state.

Generally, the organisation will send a truck out to a property to collect produce at no cost to the grower, although there is usually a minimum volume requirement.

Fresh staples are always welcome — the organisation is often short on eggs, and is always open to beef and lamb donations.

Foodbank Bunbury manager Leonie Jane said they would love to see more donations from hobby farmers and smaller-scale operations.

“If your veggie garden becomes ripe all at the same time, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do,” she said.

“We’d love a variety; we’d love for our clients to be able to enjoy everything that you and I like to have on our table.

“Whatever we can do to help, we’re here.”

ABC Radio Perth and South West WA has partnered with Foodbank to help feed West Australians in need this Christmas. To donate, click here

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(Original ABC Article)