Published On: 27 October 2020Categories: Stories

Loaves and Fishes Tasmania can make two fresh, nutritious meals for $1 thanks to farmers, supermarkets, schools, a prison and food relief charity partners donating a whopping 22,000 kg of food each week conservatively worth about $60,000.

Loaves and Fishes repackages, repurposes and redistributes the fresh and ambient food into ready-to-eat meals, emergency family food hampers, schools breakfast supplies and crated fresh produce for distribution free to Tasmanians doing it tough through more than 220 community partners.

“Loaves and Fishes wouldn’t exist without the generosity of our food suppliers and cash donors. We couldn’t afford to buy, even at heavily-discounted prices, the volume of produce we need to deliver food and hope to Tasmanians doing it tough,” said general manager Aaron Kropf.

Hundreds of suppliers

“There are hundreds of farms, supermarkets, manufacturers and individuals who donate food, from fruit and vegetables, to poultry, bread, meat, eggs, bread, seafood and dairy.

“While some food is consistent, a lot of what we get can’t be predicted despite our best planning efforts.

“Donated food can be seasonal, surplus, rejected, slightly damaged, or nearing its best-before date.

“Sometimes we have no idea what we are going to get but are thankful for all the food donations from all sources.

“Examples are our friends at Banticks Farms giving us 620 dozen eggs in the past four weeks, or Nichols Poultry having an excess of product due to an ordering problem that resulted in us getting hundreds of kilos of chicken.

“The Devonport kitchen, for example, may be getting a lot of onions, carrots, potatoes and cabbage during winter. The staff and volunteers have to get creative and be resourceful to add the least amount of paid product to make meals that are nutritious and tasty.

‘We’ve learned to do a lot with a little.’

“We’ve learned to do a lot with a little.”

Loaves and Fishes is on track to distribute about 800,000kg of food in 2020, making 200,000 ready-to-eat meals and 8000 made-to-order food hampers.

Donated and collected food is stored at the Devonport and Hobart warehouses or delivered to the Devonport kitchen for use in ready-to-eat meals.

The three largest commercial food suppliers are Premium Fresh, Harvest Moon and Agronico. Together, the North-West Tasmanian-based companies supply about five tonnes of fresh vegetables every week.

The big three donate seasonal vegetables that predominantly can’t make the grade due to minor imperfections such as spots, nicks or being the wrong shape, size or colour, or is excess to current demand. The food could be sold to other outlets, depending on quality, or mulched for use as cattle feed depending on the quality.

Aaron said the organisation was able to provide food each week for thousands of Tasmanians doing it tough as a result of the generosity of regular suppliers such as Premium Fresh, Harvest Moon, Agronico and more than 60 other suppliers including Coles supermarkets and food relief partners, SecondBite and Foodbank.

Prison and schools pitch in

Risdon Prison, the Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens and several schools also grow vegetables which are donated back to Loaves and Fishes.

“We are also thankful for the generous financial support of the State Government during COVID.

“At the peak of the COVID shutdown, our Devonport kitchen was producing up to 11,000 ready-to-eat meals.

“Overall demand for food increased over 70% during COVID.”

Loaves and Fishes’ charity food partner, Foodbank, reported in 2018 that 4 million Australians representing 18% of the population needed emergency food relief in the previous 12 months.

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