UPDATE 10am: BENDIGO Foodshare chair Cathie Steele has thanked the public for supporting food relief organisations in their hour of need.
With funding for Foodbank’s Key Staples program restored to $750,000 a year, Ms Steele was no longer anticipating difficulties sourcing essential products such as breakfast cereals, pasta, rice and canned fruit and vegetables.
“It’s really because the public has jumped up and down – it’s made a difference,” she said.
[1/3] Yesterday I promised to review the Foodbank decision. I have listened and decided to increase the Food Relief budget by $1.5 million over the next 4.5 years and have asked the Minister to place more focus on relief in drought affected areas.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 12, 2018
She said community members had yesterday been fearful of the prospect of a diminished food supply, especially those who had experienced issues accessing fresh and frozen foods earlier in the year.
“I think Scott Morrison has done the right thing. Restoring that funding is essential,” Ms Steele said.
Foodbank Australia turned to Twitter this morning to thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison for restoring its funding, ‘and for providing vulnerable Australians with certainty’.
“We are proud of the work we do to support people in crisis and welcome this decision,” the organisation wrote.
Thousands of people yesterday put their names to a GetUp campaign for Mr Morrison to reverse the cuts.
“We are a society that wants a country in which no one goes to bed hungry,” GetUp senior campaigner Jake Wishart said.
“Together we can make that happen.”
Speaking on Studio 10 yesterday, Mr Morrison said the reduction in Foodbank funding arose because additional agencies were sharing in the food relief funding pool.
“We have a competitive process to tender on who can best deliver these services instead of doing one organization, there are now three,” he said.
He said during the program he would ‘have a chat to the Social Services Minister and if there’s any need to review that decision, well, it was a decision obviously made by the Department and we’ll take a look at that’.
Alleviating the threat to the supply of food staples has enabled Bendigo Foodshare to refocus on the festive season.
Ms Steele said some corporate bodies were doing food drives.
She encouraged people to consider how they could help and to contact Bendigo Foodshare if they could offer any assistance.
People can call Bendigo Foodshare on 5444 3409, or register online to donate at bendigofoodshare.org.au/donate
EARLIER: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened to boost the government's food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding.
Foodbank was facing the prospect of cutting services for the needy after it was told about a redistribution of the relief budget which amounted to a funding cut of more than $250,000 a year.
"I have listened and decided to increase the Food Relief budget by $1.5 million over the next 4.5 years," Mr Morrison announced on Twitter on Tuesday.
[3/3] Important that food relief in drought areas is delivered in a way that does not undercut local businesses. Minister will work with providers to get the right plan in place.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 12, 2018
"This maintains Foodbank's funding at $750K/yr, with Second Bite and OzHarvest funded as announced last week."
The decision means the total food relief budget will rise to $6 million.
Mr Morrison has also asked Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher to place more focus on delivering food relief in drought-affected areas.
"Important that food relief in drought areas is delivered in a way that does not undercut local businesses. Minister will work with providers to get the right plan in place," he said.
Mr Fletcher has invited the heads of Foodbank, Second Bite and OzHarvest to a roundtable to discuss the new arrangements and "coordinate a continuing collaborative approach to food relief".
Foodbank on Monday warned its Key Staples program - which makes sure essential supplies like rice, bread and vegetables get to needy people - would be at risk with its federal government funds cut from $750,000 to $427,000 a year.
The program involves food manufacturers producing food using spare production capacity and suppliers donating or subsidising ingredients, packaging and deliveries.
"We are dumbfounded," Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey said of the initial cut, just weeks before Christmas.
Foodbank provides 67 million meals a year to charities across the country, and is Australia's largest food provider to schools for breakfast programs.
- Australian Associated Press