Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, Foodbank, has welcomed today’s announcement of a $30m grant from the Australian Government towards the creation of a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on Food Waste.
“Food waste is costing the Australian economy $20 billion at a time when we have never experienced greater demand for food relief,” said Foodbank Australia CEO, Brianna Casey.
“We know that millions of kilograms of perfectly edible, nutritious food is currently going to waste because landfill is seen as a quicker and cheaper option than diverting it to Foodbank,” Casey said. “With 3.6 million Australians experiencing food insecurity last year, we simply cannot afford for this situation to continue.”
“The Food Waste CRC has the potential to revolutionise our approach to tackling surplus food in this country, helping us to get more of it to people who desperately need it,” she said.
Foodbank has been an active champion for the establishment of the Food Waste CRC, involved every step of the way including the final bid process. Foodbank sees the CRC as crucial to the delivery of the Australian Government’s National Food Waste Strategy, Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to fighting hunger in Australia.
“We’re thrilled to be a CRC partner and to see so many of our food and grocery donors actively championing this significant, industry-led initiative,” Casey said. “Food rescue is pivotal to our operations at Foodbank. To know that we now have a concerted, long-term focus on identifying, reducing and re-directing food gives us hope that new in-roads can be made into tackling the hidden crisis of food insecurity in Australia.”
Foodbank works with farmers, food and grocery manufacturers and retailers to identify food waste and implement paddock to plate solutions to ensure ‘perfectly imperfect’ fresh produce and perfectly edible food are rescued and distributed through its network of more than 2,400 charities across the country.
“More than 5 million tonnes of food intended for human consumption is wasted in the food supply chain, including from domestic households, each year in Australia. Up to 25% of all vegetables produced by our wonderful farmers don’t even leave the farm,” Casey explained. “The CRC will help us identify this critically important food and ensure it fulfils its purpose, ending up on the tables of everyday Australians who may have otherwise gone to bed hungry.”
Foodbank will be releasing a new report on Sunday, entitled Rumbling Tummies, looking at child hunger in Australia. “The shocking findings of this report should serve as a wake-up call to all Australians, reinforcing the need for urgent action not only on food waste, but also food insecurity,” said Casey.