Working to end hunger in The Centre

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The South Australian organisation Foodbank, with a mission to end hunger, will set up a Food Hub in Alice Springs next year.

Meanwhile the Indigenous Affairs Committee recommends real-time price monitoring and a disclosure mechanism through a point of sale data system across all remote community stores; a national scheme of licensing and inspection of remote community stores; support for local food production schemes and enterprises; and maintaining the Food Security Working Group established during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foodbank has already been helping local agencies with ad hoc food relief for more than 10 years. Now it wants to support “long term food security” with its own hub, “where those in need can have a dignified shopping experience.

“What might cost $240 in a supermarket may only cost $30 through a Foodbank Food Hub, with all fruit and vegetables free of charge.”

The hub will officially open in mid to late 2021 and will make available for those in need in the region an additional 250,000 kilograms of food, equivalent to 500,000 meals, in the first 12 months of operation. This will increase in the second year.

Foodbank has responded to “the sheer increase of need in the area,” said CEO Greg Pattinson.

“We have commenced consulting with community, elders, ministers, the business community and other charities. Foodbank are friends of all and we understand we can’t solve all issues but we can provide food relief to enable those that may go without the ability to fight another day.”

The Food Hub will also deliver nutritional education.

“There’s a focus on healthy food items including affordable recipe packs and readymade meals. Cooking classes and food education will also be offered on site,” Mr Pattinson said.

The operation will benefit from a donation by mining company Newmont Australia.

In South Australia Foodbank provide food relief to over 126,000 people every month, one third of them children. Food is sourced from wholesalers, manufacturers, supermarkets and growers, saving more than 2.5 million kilograms of food from landfill each year.

Having a Food Hub in Alice Springs has been welcomed by the new social enterprise, Kere to Country, which launched in September.

Kere means food from animals in Arrernte and the focus of this enterprise is indeed meat.

Led by young Aboriginal entrepreneurs, Jessica Wishart, 31, Jordan Wishart, 25, and Tommy Hicks, 24, it is working in partnership with Bully’s Meats to provide communities with the opportunity to buy a whole fresh beef or lamb in bulk, or in smaller packs, including camping packs and business packs for ceremony.

The meat will be delivered to Northern Territory communities every eight to ten weeks with refrigeration options given to extend the usability and cost-effectiveness of bulk-buying for families. Payment for the meat packs will be in the form of interest free payment plans.

“I’m astounded by the prices our fellow Australians in Aboriginal communities are being forced to pay for basic food and meat supplies in remote community stores,” said Kere to Country CEO Jessica Wishart.

“As an Aboriginal run and led organisation we’re passionate about addressing food inequity. It’s not right that in 2020 communities are dealing with this issue. We’re about creating grassroots change in a positive way. 

“We’re respectful of communities and cultural practices and want to be able to provide knock-on benefits by harnessing local knowledge and offering work opportunities as we grow.”

Kere to Country have been consulting with communities and building their business plan to start selling products from January 2021.

They will work with Foodbank as “fundamentally we share the same mission,’’ says Ms Wishart.

The Indigenous Affairs Committee, in its report on food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities tabled last week, says food costs are very high in many remote communities but it did not find evidence of systemic price-gouging.

Julian Leeser MP, chair of the Committee, says: “The supply of quality and affordable food is often unstable due to poor infrastructure, seasonal changes, the high costs of living and operating stores remotely.

“However there is also a very good story to be told about what happened in remote communities this year during COVID-19.

“We have an opportunity to harness some of the lessons of the Supermarket Taskforce and the Food Security Working Group that were established this year in response to this pandemic and can build on the networks and goodwill generated through that process,” says Mr Leeser.

Story sourced from media releases; photos supplied.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I have an alcoholic Aboriginal friend I have known for three decades.
    Sometimes I see him in town and he asks for money, telling me he is hungry.
    Once in a while, I take him to Subway and let him choose what he wants to eat and then pay for the meal.
    He is rarely happy with this arrangement.
    Will free food mean more money for grog?

  2. @ Jason. It is good to read of your kindness, as it reinforces my notion of Alice Springs as a caring and sharing place.
    I do not believe that free food will leave alcoholics with more to spend on grog, as their disease prevents them from thinking in such a logical way, their addiction and dependence being all-consuming.
    Good on Foodbank for extending their program to our town, and to organisations such as the Salvos that have long taken part in food distribution.
    We, as a society, should support such moves as we will be judged by how well we look after the least fortunate amongst us.

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