6.5m unemployed Aussies to go hungry
Food relief charities across Australia are being swamped by the rising demand to feed out-of-work Australians during the coronavirus pandemic.
With JobKeeper and Jobseeker payments to be reduced in September and the unemployment rate expected to hit 9.25 per cent by December, the lines of people queuing for food are certain to get longer.
Feed Appeal CEO Katherine Gokavi-Whaley told news.com.au that more than 6.5 million Australians would not know where their next meal was coming from by Christmas. This is up from 5 million in 2019.
"These are some of our most vulnerable citizens plus normally hardworking mums and dads who are losing their jobs in these challenging times," she said.
Of the 400 charities Ms Gokavi-Whaley is in regular contact with, all are working overtime to meet the current need, and all are expecting it to worsen.
"These charities are not expecting things to go back to normal anytime soon. Needing to feed more and more people is the new normal and it is going to get worse in the next six months," Ms Gokavi-Whaley said.
She said charities had been forced to find new ways to distribute food using contactless pick-up or delivery for the first time and socially distancing when serving meals.
Marcus Godinho, CEO of FareShare which runs Australia's largest charity kitchens in Brisbane and Melbourne, said despite having to stand-down its 1500-strong volunteer kitchen community for their protection during COVID-19, the kitchen had ramped up production and cooked almost three million free, nutritious meals for struggling Australians so far in 2020.
"We've never cooked so many meals," Mr Godinho said.
"But with millions of people losing work and income, many international students stranded without support, elderly, sick and vulnerable people disconnected from normal support networks, FareShare has had to scale up rapidly."
He said that was possible by community groups working together, the ALH hospitality group providing out-of-work chefs and Woolworths donating $100,000 of meat and vegetables a week.
Ms Gokavi-Whaley said the Feed Appeal had "never been more important as more and more Australians struggle to put food on the table in these challenging times".
The Appeal was founded by FareShare and News Corp, to help local food charities increase their capacity to store and distribute food to those in need.
Money raised is granted back to local charities so they can buy fridges, freezes, refrigerated vehicles, cool rooms and storage to store and distribute more food to those in need.
A $2 donation to the appeal creates four meals. All donations to the Feed Appeal will be granted to food charities in the same state where the donation is made.
More than 200 charities are seeking grants this year.
Donate here or at your Woolworths checkout.
Originally published as 6.5m unemployed Aussies to go hungry