ScoMo the 'Christmas Grinch' on Foodbank funding cut

ScoMo the 'Christmas Grinch' on Foodbank funding cut

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says some of Australia’s best-known charities, including the Hutt Street Centre and UnitingCare Wesley, will be affected by today’s announcement that the Federal Government has halved funding to the Foodbank charity.

“Funding for food relief has been frozen for the past decade and yet our charities and not-for-profits are struggling to keep up with demand,” Rebekha said.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to stop behaving like the Christmas Grinch and actually increase the Department of Social Services’ latest Financial Wellbeing and Capability Fund amount.

“The latest announcement of $4.5 million over 4.5 years doesn’t meet demand and now this small pool is being shared by multiple groups, including food rescue charities OzHarvest and Second Bite, which play very different roles.

“OzHarvest and Second Bite rescue food from restaurants and hotels that would usually go to landfill while Foodbank is the main not-for-profit organisation working with manufacturers, suppliers, and farmers to secure staple foodstuffs such as rice, cereal, fruit and vegetables.

“Foodbank is a foundation organisation that provides so many charities with the staple food items they need to help the vulnerable Australians under their care.

“Last year they leveraged more than $8 million worth of basic foods to 2600 partner charities and 1750 schools.

“South Australia alone received $1.4 million worth of pantry basics for 551 different charities such as Lutheran Community Care and Share, the Heart & Soul Community Group and MarionLIFE.

“That support is now at risk with a funding decision delivered in the middle of the financial year when Foodbank has already negotiated contracts with major suppliers. It’s disgraceful and shortsighted.”

According to Foodbank, the organisation has relied on annual funding of $1 million since 2009 to run its Key Staples Program.

In the four financial years to 2014, the organisation was actually given an extra $500,000 in discretionary funding to run the same program.

That funding has been steadily cut and the latest announcement leaves Foodbank with less than $430,000 a year to run the key staples program, reduced from $750,000.

“Three in 10 Australians experience food insecurity, mostly because they are on welfare payments, pensions and low incomes, and we know charities are struggling to keep up with demand,” Rebekha said.

“I know Foodbank doesn’t begrudge OzHarvest or Second Bite from receiving funding.

'What they cannot understand is why the Government is drastically reducing their ability to run a program that supports so many partner charities do their lifesaving and life-changing work.”