by Annie Pullar
Produced for online by Melissa Mackay
Everyday more than 400,000 Queenslanders are left worrying about where their next meal is coming from, or if it will be there at all.
Foodbank Queensland rescues more than 12 million kilograms of food each year, helping community groups and schools across the state feed people who would otherwise go without.
The organisation has seen 12-fold growth since its Brisbane launch in 1995, but is on the hunt for more space to cope with increasing demand.
At Foodbank’s Morningside warehouse, perishables, frozen goods, fruit and vegetables are trucked out to more than 300 welfare agencies and 200 school breakfast programs.
But despite the massive operation, Foodbank Queensland chairman John Debenham says they are a long way short of meeting the demand.
“Forty per cent of people who are seeking food relief, are still not getting it,” he says.
Foodbank experienced an 11 per cent increase in community groups seeking assistance in the past 12 months.
YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program manager, Catherine Hannell, says they relied heavily on Foodbank to give breakfast to thousands of children.
“We measured how much food they gave us last year and it worked out to be over 44,000 litres of milk and over 46 tonnes of food,” she says.
The YMCA breakfast program delivers food to more than 8000 children per week.
In 2016, the program provided more than 550,000 free breakfast meals across 89 schools.
Ms Hannell says, if they were to buy all of that food it would amount to more than $270, 000.
“There’s no way we should be able to afford this without Foodbank’s support,” she says.
The warehouse aisles are heaving with food from corporate donations, manufacturers or produce not fit for export.
But according to Mr Debenham “it’s a constant battle” finding more suppliers, with one third of fresh produce being directed to landfill.
“There are a number of areas that we haven’t gotten to, where food’s being ploughed back into the ground because it’s not meeting supermarket specifications,” he says.
Foodbank’s Morningside warehouse is “bursting at the seams” yet many Australians are still having to decide between eating or paying for shelter.
FoodBank Queensland general manager Ken Mcmillan says to achieve an Australia without hunger, they need a bigger space.
“We’ve just outgrown this facility, we need a new one,” he says.
But it will come at a cost, says Mr Debenham.
We think it’s probably in the vicinity of the $10 million exercise to find a new warehouse of the size that we need,” he says.
Last year, Foodbank Queensland distributed the equivalent of 15.75 million meals.