COVER STORY We get be­hind the Feed Australia Ap­peal to help the mil­lions of Aussies who are go­ing hun­gry.

The num­ber of Aus­tralians go­ing with­out enough to eat is stag­ger­ing, and this is why we’re get­ting be­hind the Feed Ap­peal to help those in need, writes SHANNON HARLEY.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

What’s for din­ner? It’s a sim­ple enough ques­tion most of us ask our­selves at least once a day. Sim­ple enough, that is, un­less you are one of the four mil­lion Aus­tralians who couldn’t af­ford to feed them­selves or their fam­i­lies at some point last year.

Hunger is a se­ri­ous prob­lem in this so-called lucky coun­try.The lat­est re­port from Food bank, Australia’ s largest hunger-re­lief or­gan­i­sa­tion, re­veals that of that four mil­lion, three in four are cat­e­gorised as hav­ing ‘very low’ food se­cu­rity. Food-res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions such as FareShare, OzHar­vest and Se­cond­Bite

are mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dent in the dou­ble-edged sword of food waste and hunger by res­cu­ing good sur­plus food des­tined for landfill and re­dis­tribut­ing it to those in need via free com­mu­nity pro­grams.This year,FareShare alone an­tic­i­pates it will cook 2.5 mil­lion meals for peo­ple in des­per­ate need of a good feed, while OzHar­vest al­ready helps 1300 char­i­ties na­tion­wide.

De­spite the epic ef­forts of food-res­cue char­i­ties, Food­bank’s lat­est fig­ures show al­most two-thirds of char­i­ties sur­veyed said they strug­gle with limited ca­pac­ity and ac­cess to food, and couldn’t keep up with the de­mand for help.This is why the new na­tional Feed Australia Ap­peal has been launched by News Corp Australia (pub­lisher of de­li­cious .), which is run­ning a cam­paign across its mast­heads as part of its News in the Com­mu­nity pro­gram.

“We’re proud to sup­port a cam­paign that em­pow­ers lo­cal char­i­ties to help those less for­tu­nate,” says News Corp com­mu­nity am­bas­sador Penny Fowler. “The Feed Ap­peal will help every­day Aus­tralian fam­i­lies who rely on food char­i­ties in their lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

The Feed Ap­peal started in Vic­to­ria in 2008, when lo­cal news­pa­per Ma­roon­dah Leader sought to raise $10,000 for a strug­gling com­mu­nity kitchen. It grew into the Feed Mel­bourne Ap­peal, which has since raised more than $5 mil­lion for over 330 food-re­lief char­i­ties.This year, the ap­peal goes na­tional for the first time, run by News Corp news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines and FareShare, with sup­port from New­man’s Own Foun­da­tion, and they’re counting on you to help feed Australia.

No ges­ture of sup­port is too small.

Just 50 cents do­nated to the

Feed Ap­peal in your state can pro­vide a meal for some­one in need. Feed Ap­peal CEO Katherine Gokav­iWha­ley has tasked Australia with the goal of rais­ing $1 mil­lion this year, 100 per cent of which will go to food char­i­ties and com­mu­nity meal pro­grams.The funds will buy kitchen and stor­age equip­ment to help char­i­ties make the most of res­cued food and help buy es­sen­tial cook­ing items.

The fruits of pre­vi­ous Feed Ap­peals have had an im­pact across Vic­to­ria. Help­ing Hands Mis­sion, for in­stance, is a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that runs seven op shops in Mel­bourne and ru­ral Vic­to­ria to fund pro­grams pro­vid­ing emer­gency aid, cloth­ing, meals, gro­ceries and op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial in­clu­sion for vul­ner­a­ble Vic­to­ri­ans.The char­ity feeds more than a thou­sand peo­ple each week in­clud­ing pen­sion­ers, young fam­i­lies, stu­dents and sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. One woman, Ni­cole, was left with noth­ing af­ter she fled an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship. She’d never had to ask for help be­fore, but in desperatio­n turned to Help­ing Hands. “If I hadn’t reached out, I don’t know where I’d be... This place was just a life­line to me.”

But with the char­ity’s food pantry based in an old tin shed, CEO Me­lanie Kent says it was im­per­a­tive to have bet­ter stor­age for the per­ish­ables from food-res­cue char­i­ties to keep their meal pro­gram go­ing. Feed Mel­bourne Ap­peal grants paid for in­dus­trial-sized freez­ers and a cool room, en­abling Help­ing Hands to get as much food out to the com­mu­nity as pos­si­ble. Pre­vi­ously, food do­na­tions were turned away be­cause of limited stor­age and cook­ing ca­pac­ity.

“When a grant like Feed Mel­bourne comes along it is such a gift to us.

It has had a huge im­pact,” says Kent.

There are plenty more sim­i­lar suc­cess sto­ries of char­i­ties, small and large, bol­stered by do­na­tions. You can get in­volved by do­nat­ing or ap­ply­ing for a grant if you’re a char­ity. Woolworths is also back­ing the ap­peal. Through­out July, shop­pers can pay it for­ward with to­kens bought at the check­out that each pro­vide two meals for peo­ple in need.

A com­plex web of fac­tors, from lack of ed­u­ca­tion to poverty and men­tal ill­ness lies at the heart of food in­se­cu­rity, and while the work of food banks is es­sen­tial on the front­line, ini­tia­tives such as this in­vite the wider public to be a part of the so­lu­tion to end­ing hunger in a coun­try that has plenty to go around.

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