Mandurah Foodbank help a wide range of people, some you would not expect


Sandra (volunteer for a year), Polly and Carol (volunteer for three years).
Sandra (volunteer for a year), Polly and Carol (volunteer for three years).

A FOODBANK survey showed one in six Australians did not have enough food at least once in the past year.

Foodbank Mandurah manager Megan Reynolds said the situation locally was not any different.

“Our clients aren’t just who you would normally assume,” she said.

“A lot of people are working, they’re parents, they’re young couples and pensioners.

“People don’t understand that people who are working and have an income also need support.”

Assistant manager Peter Retallack said their clients would judge people who arrived at Foodbank in expensive cars.

“They see those driving flash cars and think, what do they need us for?” he said.

“But they’ve gotten to a point where their bills and loan repayments are more than they can afford.”

Foodbank’s annual hunger report said more than 153,000 people across WA were helped every month – 22,000 of those are children.

Foodbank currently provide food to 53,000 people across WA.

“We know 33 per cent are children,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Many families have to negotiate between paying bills and buying food.”

Mr Retallack encouraged individuals and businesses to donate.

“Our supply fluctuates dramatically,” he said.

“Some weeks people can afford to donate, other weeks they can’t.”

In WA more than three million kilograms of food were distributed in 2015, which equals 15,500 meals per day.

Ms Reynolds said people accessing food relief had to be assessed by local welfare agencies and must be experiencing financial hardship.

The most popular products at Foodbank Mandurah are tinned vegetables, tinned fish, tinned fruit and tinned soups.

Potatoes, apples and onions are always in ready supply.

Foodbank Mandurah also offer school breakfasts to 35 schools in the Peel region.

“Schools come through and choose items for school breakfast,” Ms Reynolds said.

“How are you expecting a child to learn if they have a grumbling tummy?”

Polly, a volunteer of five years, is usually the first face people see when they come to Mandurah Foodbank.

“I see about 100 people a day,” she said.

“I know a lot of the clients by names and faces, and the amount of people coming here has gone up.”

Ms Reynolds said it is great when clients come back to let them know they’re doing better.

“A lady, who we hadn’t seen for a while, came back and made a $5 donation,” she said.

“That was huge for her to be able to donate.”

The Foodbank Hunger Report found that food insecurity is reaching “crisis point”

– Generation Y (people under 35) are almost twice as likely to experience food insecurity, with 31 per cent of them reporting food insecurity, which is more than the average of 18 per cent.

– Charities are turning people away empty handed. More than half of the people who report experiencing food insecurity have sought food assistance from a charity or community group. 2015 saw an 8 per cent increase in the number of people seeking food relief.

– People who received food assistance felt happier and relieved. They reported that they were able to plan for the future and look for jobs.

– Causes of food insecurity include “bill shock” which seems to be highly prevalent in Australia and is increasing. The Essential Services Commission review (2015) into energy hardship in Victoria found that between 2009/10 and 2013/14 disconnections due to financial difficulty rose 202 per cent for those on hardship programs and 136 per cent for those not receiving support. In 2015 an estimated $50 million was owed by customers facing payment difficulties.

– Another cause is the rise in the cost of living and lower income growth.

– The Federal Government have also increased hardship according to the report, by cutting $240 million over four years in the Department of Social Services’ Discretionary Grant Program. They expect food insecurity to increase further when the government cut family tax benefit for children aged over 13 and the large family supplement.