Southwest Qld communities receive second bite of relief
A SOUTHWEST health service has recorded a huge increase in food relief due to the pressures of COVID-19 during their partnership with an Australian food rescue organisation.
SecondBite released its 2020 social impact report, finding 88 per cent of agencies across Australia reported a large impact on their food relief programs, with lockdown, unemployment and slow return to business resulting in an increased need for food.
Goondir Health Services CEO Floyd Leedie said the partnership with SecondBite began at the peak of coronavirus in March this year, and recorded a 100 per cent increase in food demand.
“We saw a huge increase from our communities of interest especially during that period when we started,” he said.
“Once we got going, we were able to talk to our partners at SecondBite to address the increase, and help those in need.”
Mr Leedie said the food rescue organisation approached the health service this year to address the issue of food insecurity across Queensland.
“They made contact with us and gave us the opportunity to realise there is a solution to this problem, and we could be a part of helping our communities,” he said.
“Through this, we were able to improve health outcomes, and address the emotional wellbeing of indigenous, and non indigenous people in need.”
Helping residents from Oakey, Dalby, and St George, Goondir and SecondBite provided hampers of food from supermarkets and other businesses that otherwise would’ve gone to landfill.
Their latest statistics revealed for the month of November, more than 5 tonnes of food was distributed to 214 households, and 1,231 people in the southwest.
Mr Leedie said the response to these food donations had been promising, with residents saying they loved the variety given to them.
“Some of the food allowed them to create meals they otherwise wouldn’t of done, as well as making relishes, jams, and more,” he said.
“It allowed them to try new things, and perhaps prepare meals they haven’t attempted in a long time due to their situation.”
SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan said minimising food waste was an incredibly important part of addressing the significant issue of food insecurity in Australia.
“Each year in Australia, it’s estimated that 7.3 billion kilograms of food is wasted,” he said.
“Our mission is to redirect the food that would have otherwise gone to landfill to the people that need it the most.”
Mr Leedie wanted to encourage the community to see how they could contribute to improving health outcomes for the southwest community.
“Without organisations like SecondBite, communities will continue to struggle, and won’t be well enough equipped to address issues around health,” he said.
“It’s important people start to support organisations like that, as these meals are for everyone, indigenous, or non indigenous.”
In 2019-2020, SecondBite redistributed almost 23 million kilograms of food from retailers, producers and more than 765 Coles supermarkets across Australia to its agency network, free of charge.
This is the equivalent of 124,415 meals every day to Australians, with it being a 20 per cent increase in the food distributed by SecondBite compared to 2018-2019.
Australians accessing food relief in 2020 included unemployed (80 per cent), single parents (78 per cent of which majority were single mothers), those experiencing homelessness (72 per cent), and people experiencing or have experienced domestic violence (58 per cent).
Since 2011, Coles has donated the equivalent of 116 million meals to SecondBite.