The growing need to feed out-of-work Australians during the coronavirus pandemic is swamping food aid organisations across Australia.
The Feed Appeal, an annual nationwide fundraiser that gives funds to local food agencies, has recorded a 50-78 per cent rise in food aid needs since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite salaries to be cut by JobKeeper and Jobseeker in September and the unemployment rate predicted to reach 9.25 per cent by December, the queues of people who are queuing for food will certainly get longer.
Katherine Gokavi-Whaley, CEO of Feed Appeal, told news.com.au that more than 6.5 million Australians do not know where their next Christmas meal will come from. This is on the rise from 5 million in 2019.
“These are some of our most vulnerable citizens plus normally hardworking mums and dads who are losing their jobs in these challenging times,” she said.
For the 400 charities with which Ms Gokavi-Whaley is in daily touch, all work hard to meet the immediate need and all expect it to get worse.
“These charities are not expecting things to go back to normal anytime soon. Needing to feed more and more people is the new normal and it is going to get worse in the next six months,” Ms Gokavi-Whaley said.
She said charities were forced to find new ways to distribute food for the first time using contactless pick-up or delivery and to separate themselves socially while delivering meals.
“We’ve never cooked so many meals,” Mr Godinho said.
“But with millions of people losing work and income, many international students stranded without support, elderly, sick and vulnerable people disconnected from normal support networks, FareShare has had to scale up rapidly.”
Ms Gokavi-Whaley said the Feed Appeal had “never been more important as more and more Australians struggle to put food on the table in these challenging times”.