Foodbank says funding for its Key Staples program – which makes sure essential supplies like rice, bread and vegetables get to hungry people – will drop from $750,000 to $427,000.
In South Australia, the charity says locals will miss out on around $1.4 million to $1.5 million of food as a result of the cut.
Foodbank SA chief executive officer Greg Pattinson said the cut would “significantly impact our ability to get source key staple foods, such as pasta, rice, cereals, to where it is needed the most”.
“To say this is devastating is an understatement – it puts our Key Staple program in jeopardy,” he said in a media release distributed by SA Labor. “We don’t want to turn away hungry families in this state, we hope the Federal Government will see sense.
“Foodbank currently provides 70 per cent of the food required by the welfare sector and has been using the federal funds for over a decade to source food that cannot be gained by food rescue alone. It drastically reduces our ability to put food on the table in this state.”
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher today confirmed three charities, rather than two, would share in more than $4.5 million over four-and-a-half years from January.
“OzHarvest is receiving funding for the first time and SecondBite has had an increase of $100,000,” he said in a statement.
Foodbank’s $1.9 million share of the grant was more than any other organisation, he added.
Earlier, Morrison said he would speak with Fletcher about the funding split.
“It was a decision obviously made by the department and we’ll take a look at that,” Morrison told Network Ten,
Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey says spreading funding across more organisations will hurt the charity’s work as grants were already “woefully inadequate”.
“We know that so many children are affected by food insecurity, they don’t deserve this outcome. We need the prime minister to intervene,” Casey told the ABC.
In February, Foodbank asked the government for $10.5 million over three years, which it said would return $316 million to the Australian economy.
But the charity says this latest cut – the third since 2014 – may mean the end of the Key Staples program.
Despite growing demand, Casey said government funding had gone down from $1.5 million a year three years ago, to $427,000 a year from January 2019.
Under the Key Staples program, food manufacturers produce items using spare production capacity and suppliers donate or subsidise ingredients, packaging and delivery.
“This funding program enables us to leverage an extremely modest investment from the government into more than $8 million of essential foods for distribution to 2600 charities around the country,” she said.
Foodbank provides 67 million meals a year to charities across the country, as well as more than 1750 schools and is Australia’s largest food provider to schools for breakfast programs
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has written to the government asking for the cut to be reversed and will today visit the charity’s Victorian headquarters
The Australians Greens say the “callous” and “unnecessary” cuts will have a significant impact on people living in rural and remote areas.
– with AAP
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