Foodbank Australia has visited Griffith in an effort to expand the school breakfast program and check in with some of their biggest fruit and vegetable providers in the area.
The school breakfast program provides breakfasts for 350 schools across the state, and is aiming to reach 600 in the next 18 months. Unfortunately, need has risen over the last few years and Foodbank is struggling to keep supply up.
"It's always based on need. We don't have enough for every school that applies so it always has to be based on need." said Adam Loftus, the "School Breakfast 4 Health" team leader.
Mr Loftus spoke about the challenge of providing food to families in need, a particular challenge now since the last few years have brought further demand through natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year alone, Foodbank provided over 22 million meals to people in need.
"I started three years ago, and we had about 600 partners we provided food to. Now, we're just about to hit 1000."
Foodbank just recently hit a milestone, now having provided over 150 million meals to people in need across Australia. It's bittersweet for Mr Loftus and the Foodbank team.
Most organisations celebrate their milestones. For us, we wish we didn't have to.Adam Loftus, School Breakfast 4 Health & Agencies Team Leader
"Most organisations celebrate their milestones. For us, we wish we didn't have to."
It's not all sad news however, and Produce Manager for the Riverina John Moore accompanied the tour to learn from his predecessor on how to manage the impressive amounts of food donated by the area.
"We're also out here as a bit of a thank you to our donors here... Griffith supplies a hefty amount of produce for us." Mr Moore said.
Around a third of the fruit and vegetables Foodbank distributes comes from the Riverina, totaling 1.6 million kilograms of fresh produce in a year. Those fruit and vegetables will be distributed across the state and country to those most in need, who Mr Loftus emphasised could be anyone.
"There's a misconception that the people we supply food to are always homeless or the unemployed, and that's not true. Close to half of the people we help are employed, but have fallen on rough times in other ways and food just becomes an incidental cost."
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