Foodbank NSW & ACT Annual Report 2022
Providing food relief to more than a million people each month.
meals provided to families across NSW & ACT
kilometres travelled across NSW & ACT to source and provide food relief
emergency hampers distributed to those in need in times of crisis
increase on total hampers delivered last year
supported through our School Breakfast 4 Health program
in our network, collaborating to provide food relief where it’s most needed
A message from our CEO
2022 brought with it a new set of challenges for Australians. Having faced fires, floods, and the pandemic, the rising cost of living was the latest disaster to hit.Read about the challenges faced in 2022
2022 brought with it a new set of challenges for Australians. Having faced fires, floods, and the pandemic, the rising cost of living was the latest disaster to hit. That’s why I’m so grateful you were there to help those who struggled to put food on their table.
Foodbank NSW & ACT was able to provide food relief to more than a million people each month. You helped by putting more than just food on the table, you put hope in the hearts of so many whose lives have been hit with disaster.
Sadly, the high cost of living is forecast to continue in 2023, as is the hunger that millions of Australians are facing. The Foodbank Hunger Report 2022 reveals alarming details surrounding the hunger crisis around the country.
More than 2 million households in Australia ran out of food last year due to limited finances, sometimes skipping meals or going whole days without eating. Sadly, 1.3 million children went hungry during this time.
Australians were forced to choose between buying food and groceries or keeping a roof over their heads or paying bills.
The many stories of people who faced a daily struggle to afford food are heartbreaking.
“I only eat once a day because the cost of groceries has increased, and the pension doesn’t cover the real cost of living. So, I try and cut down on everything, so I can survive on the government pension.” – Jill, aged-pensioner.
“The fuel prices went up and I couldn’t afford it as a casual worker. The cost of fresh food and groceries went up also and my mortgage increased with the interest rate rises. We aren’t eating as healthily now because it is too expensive.” – Sarah, casual worker.
“We ran out of savings and our power and other bills needed to be paid. So, we had to cut back on food and have smaller meals.” – Andrew, disability pensioner.
Thanks to you, Foodbank was there for struggling Aussies who’ve been doing it tough this year, sourcing an incredible 88 million meals.
Your compassion gave hope to Australians by providing food hampers of fresh food and pantry staples. You stopped children going hungry with the School Breakfast 4 Health program. Your support helped Foodbank source and donate food to communities in need, as well deliver crisis hampers when emergencies hit.
While we look set to face ongoing challenges in 2023, with your support, together we will continue to change people’s lives by providing them with food on the table and hope in their hearts.
CEO, Foodbank NSW & ACT
We’re supporting people through times of crisis
Foodbank NSW & ACT mobilised to deliver food and water in flood affected areas. Melissa of Lismore tells of her harrowing tale of survival.Read Melissa and her daughter’s story
Sadly, the extreme flooding that has impacted many communities around Australia this year has caused lives to be lost, damaged thousands of homes and businesses, and left thousands of people to pick up the pieces.
Thanks to our supporters, we are able to play a crucial role in times of emergency, providing essential supplies to support the work of first responders and emergency services as well as giving ongoing assistance to affected communities during the months and years it takes to recover.
March saw us transporting truckloads of food, water and groceries, bound for the Northern Rivers, which was just the start of what would be an ongoing relief effort in our communities. We were able to get 22 pallets of nappies, personal care items, period products, and emergency relief hampers going to evacuation centres, which went on to help families across the region who had lost everything.
Moree Floods – Narrabri
43 year-old mother Melissa lives in Lismore, one of the areas hardest hit by severe flooding, with her 13-year-old daughter, Em. After experiencing the floods of 2017, Melissa knew all too well just how devastating floods can be, but nothing could prepare her for what was to come in early 2022.
“I started ringing my friends who were at the local evacuation centre to say goodbye. They were telling me to get out but it was pitch black, and all I could think was I’m not risking my daughters’ life. All I could do was wait for daylight and pray the water didn’t get any higher. I didn’t think we were getting out, I thought that was it. I felt like I’d failed my daughter.
“We tied my daughter and dogs to a rope to get them safely onto the roof and keep shelter under a blanket from the rain that felt like razorblades. But I couldn’t get out there. My daughter looked back at me and said ‘mum you lied, why aren’t you coming’. I knew I was never going to get onto the roof but I just needed her to be as safe as she could be. I typed out a message on my phone for whoever rescued my daughter, with all my details, our Medicare information, names and contact details of friends, where she was to stay -basically a last will and testament on a phone. We don’t really have any family so I wanted to make sure she would be okay if I didn’t make it. I grabbed a large extension cord, tied it around me and tied myself to the roof where I just waited and hoped.
Thankfully, we were able to get hampers to Melissa and her daughter, with everything she needed to make it through the toughest of times.
“We received some flood relief hampers from Foodbank and we were so thankful. At that time, we had nothing, and we didn’t know when we would get food or supplies again. The hampers were a lifeline – they had noodles, tins of soups, things we could eat hot or cold because we had no power or hot water. Even things you just don’t think about, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Until you’re in a situation like that, you’ll never know how good it is to brush your teeth again.
Thanks to our community, we are able to continue to support Melissa as her family get back on their feet.
“I finally feel like I’ve been getting back on track after losing everything, and now we’re facing a cold winter, and everything is getting more and more expensive. We’ve been going to a local food pantry ever since the floods – now I go around once a fortnight – usually for tinned and dried food that I can use for my slow cooker.
“We haven’t had a kitchen since the flood destroyed it, so I’ve made us an outside kitchen on the veranda. It’s impossible to cook on gas in this cold wind, so I use the slow cooker inside, fill it with tinned food from the pantry and it feeds Em and I for a long time. There was no way we could have afforded to replace the kitchen after the floods, all the piping was destroyed. There was nothing left.”
Melissa continues to do everything she can to make ends meet and provide for her small family. She has since started growing her own vegetables in the garden, her daughter’s pet chickens provide them with all the eggs they need, and she continually makes whatever improvements she can to her outdoor kitchen. Supplementing all of this with the tinned and dried foods she is able to get at her local pantry, supplied by Foodbank.
Loading food hampers and water onto the helicopter
Over the past year, our School Breakfast 4 Health Program has made a massive impact on the lives of children across NSW and the ACT. With 736,000 households experiencing hunger due to limited finances, many children were left struggling without the most important meal of the day.
In fact, 464,000 children lived in severely food insecure households, with households with children being 1.5 times more likely to be severely food insecure than the national average.
Assistant Principal of Toongabbie East Public School in Western Sydney, Stefanie Cutri, told us just how crucial the breakfast club is for their school community. It provides access to nutritious breakfast and supports the mental health, social skills, concentration, behaviour, and overall academic outcomes of the students.
When Stefanie joined the school two years ago, the club was only running 2-3 days per week. However, the need for it was so strong that the program is now run five days a week.
“When we weren’t running our program every day, kids were showing up and waiting at the door for breakfast. Now we run the program every day and pretty much the whole school show up for their breakfast each morning.”
Stefanie also highlighted the real impact on families that has been made through the breakfast club.
More than just food, the program has also provided huge social benefits for the community.
“When kids come in, they sit down, and it’s a real social engagement and experience for everyone – it’s a way to connect and build relationships. Our Student Learning Support Officers run the breakfast club, which allows them to connect with the kids too.”
Running the program has also led to remarkable improvements in student attendance and attention.
At Foodbank NSW & ACT, we’re proud to be supporting 481 schools across the state and territory to provide this essential service to their community.
Volunteering continued to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 in the 2021-2022 financial year. While interest in individual volunteering remained relatively consistent across the year, the overall number of individual volunteers reduced as the team worked through multiple disruptions. Qualifying for “Authorised Worker Status” and a willing uptake of COVID-19 vaccination helped sustain our individual volunteer team, and while overall volunteer days in the distribution centre reduced by 20-33% depending on the month, the impacts could have been even worse without these factors.
Corporate volunteering ceased again in July 2021, but eventually started returning through the Christmas Hamper and Emergency Hamper packing activities. Interest in corporate volunteering rebounded and many existing partner organisations had again registered to volunteer by the end of June 2022.
Australian Defence Force taskings and secondments from Blacktown City Council provided significant support to Foodbank NSW & ACT through the worst of the COVID-19 restrictions. Joint Task Force 629 were deployed to Sydney to assist with the COVID-19 response and had capacity to assist charities participating in the response, this tasking provided regular skilled teams to assist our operations. Blacktown City Council redeployed staff from their fitness and aquatic centres across the week to maintain their engagement and support our operations during their own shutdown.
A year of volunteer support at a glance:
- 133 individual volunteers contributed 5083 days of work in our distribution centre.
- 33 individual volunteers gave more than 50 days each.
- 82 corporate teams provided 1136 days of volunteering to help sort and package food for distribution.
- Blacktown City Council secondments and Australian Defence Force taskings provided an additional 950 days of support in our distribution centre.
- Corporate volunteering impacted by ‘Omicron’ COVID-19 variant, cancelled from July and only resuming for the Christmas Hamper packing in October.
- Corporate teams gradually increased through early 2022, eventually returning to daily volunteering and corporate teams helping to pick and pack community partner orders at the end of the year.
33 volunteers each donated more than 50 days of their time.