Cost pressures raise price of making free meals for Tasmanians in need
Cost pressures raise price of making free meals for Tasmanians in need

By Paul O'Rourke
The days of being able to make two free meals for $1 are over, despite reducing expenses and increasing income.

What hasn’t changed is our absolute commitment to efficiently delivering nutritious free food to Tasmania’s most vulnerable at a time of record and ever-growing demand.

Over 80 per cent of donated food and dollars is spent on making and distributing meals and fresh produce. Necessary administration, advocacy and fundraising costs make up less than 20 percent of our expenses.

However, it’s become increasingly expensive to collect, cook, package, store and deliver bulk healthy free food statewide.

Cost-of-living increases and a reduction in the amount and frequency of donated food due to wet weather and market pressures have meant we have had to buy more food to nourish a record number of Tasmanians doing it tough.

Loaves and Fishes delivers 800,000 kilos of produce and 200,000 ready-made meals each year. We deliver food and hope through 350 community food partners statewide.

We are now producing and delivering a nutritious healthy meal for $4, such is the new economic reality of doing good for the many.

Our wages are modest, and we rely heavily on volunteers and in-kind support throughout the organisation; from sorting food to painting our offices.

And Loaves and Fishes will never charge for food or delivery.

We are grateful for increased State and Government funding, increasing public financial support, as well as the constant generous contribution from farmers and other food suppliers.

A Federal Government grant of $1.3 million means we can buy our Devonport building and install solar power, while increased State Government funding has enabled us to replace ageing and rented vehicles with new trucks.

We have been able to build a new southern kitchen at the Grace Centre in Rokeby as a result of financial support from various donors including Presbyterian Care, Rotary, Grace Church, and the State Government’s Healthy Tasmania Fund. The kitchen will produce up to 5000 meals a week and provide community employment and training opportunities from early next year.

In-kind and corporate donations have also allowed us to build a second kitchen at our Devonport warehouse to increase production, provide employment, and fulfil paid commercial contracts with profits going back into our charitable work.

New Data: 1 in 5 Tasmanians facing Food Hunger The Tasmania Project UTAS Study, 2022.