FoodShare has published the 2019 Annual Report and the year was one of renewal for the FoodShare Board. With a number of long-term directors resigning following many years of significant contribution to the organisation this brought opportunity to refresh the Board and five new board members were recruited. In collaboration with the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) a review of FoodShare and its benefits and impacts was undertaken with the assistance of Charles Sturt University.
The key findings of the report included:
• 47,000 people in our region will experience food insecurity at some point during the year
• Every day it is operating, AWRFS distributes enough food to feed over 2,500 people
• Over the course of a year, AWRFS will provide food to the value of around $5M
• We turn every $1 in funding into approximately $42 worth of food – a remarkable operational efficiency that is a credit to our volunteers, food donors, partner agencies and, particularly, our Manager, Peter Matthews
In 2019 FoodShare increased its food supply by 12% over 2018 and are supporting more schools and agencies that ever before. This was only achievable with the support of our community volunteers and local community donations which ensure that FoodShare has a real impact on hunger and disadvantage across our local communities on both sides of the Murray River, and into the high country.
The growth in overall agency registrations has come from all local government areas in our catchment. It is notable that demand has increased in the smaller towns in our region, although the LGA’s of Albury and Wodonga are still where greatest overall demand exists.
2019 also saw the need to commence a process to relocate our warehouse operations. After many years of generous support, Wodonga TAFE was faced with the situation of having to reclaim the warehouse space it had kindly made available to us. Fortunately, they were able to work with us in a very accommodating manner as we sourced and, ultimately, moved into a new premises.
The Healthy Food Initiative has continued to have an emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating. Schools reported that the availability of fresh food, especially fruit and vegetables (F&V), has been a huge benefit to students, and stated there was growing demand for fresh food from students. In 2018, we had 74 primary and secondary schools registered as FoodShare agencies (63 in 2017). Of these 50+ took part in the Healthy Food program. In 2019 we had 82 registered, with 55 of them accessing Healthy Food.
2019 also recorded an 80% increase in fundraising and other income compared with 2018. Indeed, a highlight of the year was the fundraising dinner held at the Old Beechworth Gaol in late September. The dinner raised $17,000 at what would prove to be a critical time with the subsequent outbreak of the bushfire emergency in our region. FoodShare also launched a long-term initiative, the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign, to raise finances for a purpose-built warehouse.
Fundamentally, we were able to provide help to a growing number of people in our community, both on the border and in the wider region, both sides of river. By consolidating our organisations efforts we were able to continue to provide food to the thousands who need it every year.
The need for FoodShare is still growing, especially in smaller communities where there is no alternative. FoodShare will continue to deliver a vital service to our region, for the wellbeing of our community.
Read our full Annual Report 2019.