By Roxanne Fitzgerald
The Northern Territory’s largest food relief organisation is putting boots on the ground in Katherine as food insecurity continues to impact families across the region.
What was once thought of as a predominantly third world issue, has rapidly become a challenge in wealthy countries like Australia.
“If you talk to all the agencies in Katherine, the number one thing they hand out is food vouchers,” Food Ladder’s horticulturalist Scott McDonald said.
“Access to food in this town is a big issue for people who don’t have money.”
Foodbank distributes the equivalent of 1000 meals every day to Territorians in the greater Darwin region through charities, not-for-profit groups and schools, but a lack of resources has meant Katherine misses out.
Today, three pallets of Weet-Bix travelled 300 kilometres from Foodbank’s headquarters in Darwin as the organisation announced plans to expand their service to Katherine.
General Manager of Foodbank Peter Chandler said the highly successful Schools Breakfast Program which was scrapped some years ago when funding dried up, could be re-instated.
Food Ladder in Katherine is leading the way in helping people have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
He said there are also plans to rescue Woolworths from its food waste burden and distribute fresh fruit and vegetables to Katherine’s most vulnerable people.
The organisation relies on donated food from a number of places including interstate national donors through Foodbank Australia, local Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets and food drives and donations from the general public.
“We are not a silver bullet to the social issues in Katherine but we can provide food access to charities at a reduced rate and reduce their burden so they can help more people,” Mr Chandler said.
“We wouldn’t be here today if we hadn’t had confident feedback that our service is needed.”
At the moment, agencies and schools in the region would be able to purchase food for $1.50 per kilogram, but there are hopes that rate will be reduced.
Food Ladder has stepped up to work with the organisation as the drop-off and storage point.
“In these early stages, it is about getting food to agencies who can then pass it on to their clients,” Mr McDonald said.
“But if it all goes well, Foodbank has a huge bus which they could bring down and set up as a pop-up shop for the people who really need it.”
The first delivery could happen as soon as early next year, starting with monthly trips.
Earlier this year, Foodbank NT was the recipient of an international grant from the Global Foodbanking Network by way of a 6.5t Pantech Truck which has now given capacity to deliver food to Katherine and in addition to this increase the potential to support remote schools in the area.
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