Image: Foodbank welfare agency members select produce. Credit: Courtney Phelps.

Updated 22 May 2013, see editor’s note for details of changed figures.

From the exterior, Foodbank Queensland looks like any of the other warehouses lining the industrial backstreets of Morningside, in Brisbane’s south-east.

It is a deceptively simple façade for an organisation that helps welfare agencies feed over 80,000 desperate Queenslanders every week.

With branches all over the country, Foodbank acts as a middleman between food companies or farmers with surplus stock, and community support organisations needing nutritious food for their clients.

Gus Cheratzu, Foodbank Queensland donor relations manager, said that the problem of hunger in Australia was one of the nation’s ‘best kept secrets’.

“Every year, two million Australians will depend on food relief at some point, and one million of those people will be children,” Cheratzu said.

“It’s almost like [hunger] is invisible. It’s not newsworthy, so it’s not something which is thrown up in your face on an everyday basis. It’s hidden.”

Up to 40,000 kilograms of fresh, dried, frozen and packaged products move through the Foodbank Queensland warehouse each day – donations from companies and farmers considered ‘unsaleable’.

Though the items are perfectly fit for human consumption, they may have incorrect or damaged packaging, be close to expiry, or are simply surplus to the market’s current demand.

There are currently 300 welfare agencies that rely on Foodbank Queensland for their clients, most of which are low income families or single parents.

“We have such a big working poor here, that all it takes is the fridge to blow up or the car to break down, and they have to go without to make ends meet,” Cheratzu said.

“The majority of people want to be out of the situation they’re in, so all they need is just a little bit of help to get them up on their feet again.”

Roy Leggins, a volunteer at Noosa Christian Outreach Church, can testify to this. Every Tuesday and Friday, his church makes up food parcels from Foodbank products to hand out to those struggling to feed themselves.

Leggins said that despite the affluent image of the Sunshine Coast, it was shocking to see the number of people, particularly pensioners, desperate for help.

“On average we get 130 to 150 people a day,” he said.

“A lot of our ladies come with about $10, and say, ‘What can we get with this [at a conventional grocery store], I’ve paid my rent’. I’m nearly in tears sometimes because they’re so desperate.”

“It’s a relief when we can come down here [to Foodbank] and get these products.”

For more information about Foodbank Queensland, click here.

Editor’s note: Two figures in this article have been updated as of 22 May 2013 at the request of Foodbank Queensland. 70,000 Queenslanders in paragraph two has been changed to 80,000 Queenslanders and 40 tonnes of product in paragraph seven has been changed to 40,000 kilograms.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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