Additional investments in resources for food relief including transportation in regional Victoria have been announced.
It’s part of a recent initiative by the Victorian Government to build regional food hubs and increase the capacity of food relief storage and distribution services.
Under the plan the hubs will ensure food gets to where it’s needed by strengthening the link between suppliers and those experiencing food insecurity.
The Victorian Government is investing $3.5 million on top of the $10 million it has already allocated for new distribution centres in Ballarat and Morwell.
In partnership with Foodbank Victoria, the Government has selected Albury-Wodonga Regional Foodshare, Bendigo Foodshare, Geelong Relief Centre, Mildura Foodshare and Warrnambool and District Foodshare to provide the new hub services.
Once complete in late 2022, the new centres will enable a coordinated food relief response across the state.
The Community Food Relief grants and regional food hubs are part of the more the $25 million in additional funding the Government has provided since February 2020 to expand food relief operations across Victoria.
In addition, the Government provides Foodbank Victoria with over $3.6 million support each year.
Foodbank works with transport providers and third party logistics to source and distribute more than 40 million kilograms of food and groceries every year.
Current partners include Toll who helps to reduce freight costs by providing an annual credit and discount on services, Scott’s Refrigerated Transport and Linfox transport who donate product from mutual partners to Foodbank’s distribution centres which in turn frees up Foodbank’s own fleet for other delivery and collection jobs.
Woolworths and Metcash also allows the non-profit to utilise its spare interstate freight capacity, allowing it to share a greater variety of products across the national network.
“Every Victorian deserves access to fresh and healthy food – which is why we’re boosting resources for community-based food relief services and ensuring all families can stay happy and healthy,” said Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan.
“2020 was a year like no other and many Victorians are still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic – our new regional hubs will help ensure better food relief coordination across the state so everyone has what they need.”
Donnellan announced 93 recipients of the $5 million Community Food Relief Fund grants, which will provide 2 million meals and 180,000 food hampers to vulnerable Victorians.
Grant recipients will tailor local food relief programs to meet community needs, including purchasing things like vans and updating IT software, as well as supporting COVIDSafe practices.
Recipients include The Community Grocer who received almost $69,000 to expand their fresh food hamper program and develop an innovative new voucher program for people experiencing disadvantage.
Up to 140,000 Victorians access food every month through more than 470 charity partners.
Their new voucher program aims to help remove any extra barriers for vulnerable people accessing fresh produce and reduce any stigma associated with using vouchers by making the system more discreet and accessible.