Not all ‘free’ food is created equal

Loaves and Fishes never charges for food and is committed to both quality and quantity in distributing bulk meals and fresh produce statewide to hungry Tasmanians.

The emergency food relief provider annually gives away almost one million kilograms of mainly fresh Tasmanian produce and 200,000 fresh or frozen heat-and-eat meals in partnership with about 350 community food agencies.

About 80% of distributed food is donated from local farms, supermarkets, wholesalers and retailers. Loaves and Fishes rescues edible food, much of which would otherwise end up as cattle feed, in landfill, or ploughed back into fields.

A portion of the collected food is transferred to the organisation’s Devonport kitchen for use in a range of tasty and nutritious meals. The remainder is distributed fresh in bulk.

CEO Andrew Hiller said just “counting kilograms of stuff” in measuring impact was misleading.

“Handing out cans of soft drink, biscuits and other highly-processed foods is not nourishing a hungry state.

“Our focus is distributing mainly fresh fruit and vegetables and nutritious and tasty meals that combine a mix of protein, fibre and carbohydrates, and are low in sugar and sodium,” he said.

“We produce dozens of different meals, from roasts and stir fry dishes, to casseroles, pasta dishes, salads and curries.

“We never charge agencies for the food we supply or the cost of getting it there.’’

Loaves and Fishes provide about 60% of the State’s emergency food relief, feeding around 16,000 people each week.

The organisation will substantially increase the amount of food being distributed when a second kitchen based in Hobart opens next month.

A survey last year of 100 agencies showed 97% were satisfied or very satisfied with the food received from Loaves and Fishes.

By Paul O'Rourke

Published (13/04/2023)