May 23, 2023

Foodbank Peel on track to provide 661,500 meals, with support from Alcoa

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to deepen, more people are reaching out for help from Foodbank WA than they have ever seen before. The cost of rent is rising, mortgage holders faced their tenth consecutive rate hike and the cost of groceries have risen at an alarming rate.

These circumstances are pushing many Western Australians, including in the Peel region, into financial stress, and they are struggling to put food on the table.

The Foodbank Peel branch is on track to provide about 661,500 meals this year to vulnerable individuals, families and students within the region through 80 charity agencies and 55 schools.

This effort is supported by a three-year partnership with Alcoa of Australia, which started in 2022, that has enabled Foodbank Peel to increase the meals it provides and expand its Mobile Foodbank in the Kwinana, Pinjarra, Dwellingup, Jarrahdale and Waroona townsites and surrounding areas.

Foodbank WA and Alcoa of Australia first partnered in 2020 in response to the impacts from the COVID pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Alcoa Corporate Affairs Director Jodie Read said “We are acutely aware that people in the communities where we operate are doing it tough and that food insecurity is a major issue for the Peel region. We’re heartened to see our financial and volunteering support is helping local families and people in need put food on the table”.

In Peel Foodbank WA regularly hears from customers that they are forced to pay more for housing, to keep a roof over their heads. Their rent or mortgage is going up, but people cannot afford to move due to a rental property shortfall and the overall cost of moving itself.

Some of the families that visit the branch have two, or even three generations living together.

Kate O’Hara, Foodbank WA CEO said, “There is a significant need for food relief in our regional towns and communities. Often, people tell us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their kids. We have seen a rise in demand for our services in the last two to three years. We’ve seen a lot of people put up their hand and ask for help for the first time. With the rising cost of living affecting most facets of everyday life, we know this will continue for some time."

66% of people working for minimum wage have less than $14 a day to live on once they’ve paid their essential bills. That’s what we call the working poor - people whose pay cheques haven’t kept up with the cost of living. In a state as wealthy as ours, with regions that produce an abundance of fruit and veg, there’s no reason for anyone to go hungry,” Ms O’Hara continued.

Sue Jenkins a Peel customer said, “We have definitely been feeling the pinch as prices rise. Foodbank has just been a godsend. The first time I visited and got to the till after shopping I had tears in my eyes. It was such a relief knowing that we would be able to get through this.”

A customer from the Peel branch who wished to remain anonymous echoed the sentiment. “I am a teacher in the local area and at the moment I am in between teaching contracts. I am relying on Foodbank to help me provide for my family. It brings me such joy and relief to be able to go into Foodbank and get so many pantry staples, fruit and veg, essentials and treats. I can’t thank all the Foodbank staff enough for helping me get through this time. They are amazing.”

At Foodbank WA, the number of customers continues to grow. They have experienced a 90% growth in demand across the state. Both a new socio-demographic and the traditionally vulnerable are needing assistance.

All the branches are recording large increases in both customer foot traffic and also volume of food moving out of the warehouses. In February alone a total of 732,913 meals were distributed which is a 54% increase on the same time last year.

Food Assistance is available to anyone struggling to access or afford food. Phone the Emergency Relief & Food Assistance Hotline 1800 979 777, Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm.