Foodbank to support hundreds of thousands of Australians this Christmas

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Alex’s life had always been “stable”, but when she fled a violent relationship, she found herself “with no money in the bank and no food in the cupboard” to feed her four children.

Alex searched online to find out where she could get help and ended up at Foodbank.

“I was nervous. I’ve not been in that position before,” Alex told Virginia Trioli.

“They took the shame away and, having my youngest with me, we made a happy thing about it.”

When Alex arrived home with the food, she didn’t have a chance to put it away before the kids had their hands on it.

“They were just too excited,” she said.

Pre-pandemic levels

With secure work still hard to come by, Alex and her family will be relying on Foodbank to avoid hunger over the summer holidays.

They are not alone.

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 38 per cent of Australians struggling to afford meals were experiencing food insecurity for the first time, according to the 2021 Foodbank Hunger Report.

For a majority of people surveyed, 2021 has been a more difficult year than 2020.

Last year government payments saw the number of Australians who could not afford food almost halve (from 21 per cent to 13 per cent), but with support being wound back, food insecurity has returned to pre-pandemic levels this year.

Foodbank Victoria chief executive Dave McNamara said hundreds of thousands of people still needed help.

“We had single mums with their kids in the car, we had guys that were landscape gardeners that couldn’t work, hospitality workers, events workers, ex-Afghanistan veterans,” he said.

“So, the whole diaspora of the community was coming to get assistance off us.”

‘Nobody should go hungry’

Elessio Georgoulis was employed in the gym industry before work “dried up” during COVID lockdowns.

He signed up to a job agency and got casual work as a forklift driver at Foodbank Victoria — now he is their full-time warehouse manager.

“I’m not leaving, I can’t leave — what we do here is too good,” he said.

“The environment that we work in, the people who we work with, you know, the ultimate goal of what we’re doing, it’s such a great thing to be a part of.”

Last year alone, Foodbank sourced enough groceries for more than 87 million meals.

If you are also struggling to put food on the table, Alex says there is no need to be afraid of asking for help.

“They’re there to help, nobody should go hungry,” she said.

“And the people who can support, support because we need it.”

ABC Radio Melbourne and Victoria has partnered with Foodbank to help feed Victorians in need this Christmas. If you’d like to donate, go to abc.net.au/VICgives.

(Original ABC Article)