The truth about resilience.

Andrew Hillier, CEO.

Loaves and Fishes Tasmania (LFT) serves a key role in supporting so many Tasmanians facing hunger. Thank you for being a part of the solution and helping to make sure every Tasmanian can access safe and nutritious food every day.

There is a lot of talk at the moment about “Relief to Resilience” when it comes to making sure all Tasmanians have enough food to eat. But what does the term mean? Put simply, we want to stop handing out food relief and support all Tasmanian communities to feed themselves. We are part of a food coalition working with the State Government to implement a long term strategy to move from relief to sustainability.

For many struggling Tasmanians, the distance between no longer needing to rely on food relief and being resilient enough to grow, purchase, prepare and eat safe and nutritious food is a big one. Our current challenges around the cost of living have made this even more so. We must not lose sight of this reality. We must continue to properly resource the immediate needs, while at the same time working towards change.

We are committed to both. We will always serve with compassion and justice, ensuring relief is always available, but we will also work hard to support long term change. We will fight for strong, equitable food systems where all Tasmanians can be a part of a great community, where they can access safe and nutritious food and have the resources and skills to care for themselves.

I’m addressing you today, either as a donor or as one of the amazing community food programs we have the honour of helping every week with fresh food and meals. You are both heroes to us. Every dollar donated helps to support a fellow Tasmanian doing it tough by making sure we can consistently deliver fresh, nutritious food statewide. If you are one of the 300-plus community food programs, schools or community organisations we deliver to every week, you are the frontline heroes supporting people doing it tough in our community. We are here to help you.

Together we are delivering food and hope.

In these tough economic times, we know the impact increased cost of living is having on so many Tasmanians. We also know these times are stretching many organisations to their limit. Our role is to support you now and into the future as we all work together to establish resilience and consistency around equitable food access for all Tasmanians.

That is why Loaves and Fishes Tasmania is working very hard to be innovative, adaptable and collaborative in how we help address food hunger in Tasmania.

Some important ways LFT is continuing to provide ongoing food relief and work towards long term resilience:

  1. We are not working alone.
  2. We work from a real understanding of the needs.
  3. We are committed to supplying nutritionally balanced food and meals.
  4. We provide education and training that can change the future.
  5. We always stand ready to change and adapt to new, innovative community-based solutions.

1. We are not working alone

LFT is proud to be one of the founding members of the Tasmanian Food Security Coalition. A group of Tassie-based organisations committed to addressing the real issues around food insecurity in Tasmania.

2. We work from a real understanding of the needs

LFT supports the recent UTAS research findings, hunger and food insecurity in 2022. This research, along with subsequent work with UTAS, has helped us understand where the needs are and who needs extra help. It is clear from this research that the needs are at unprecedented levels, requiring an unprecedented response.

We are committed to supplying nutritionally balanced food and meals.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines are the standard for us in determining the food we supply to those in need. We also want to ensure that a meal is a meal. The measure of one meal for LFT is one adult serving. Everything else we supply, fruit, vegetables and food products, is measured in kilograms and is never designated as a meal until it is made into one.

We are calling on the Tasmanian Government to introduce state legislation and guidelines to ensure that all food relief meets the minimum Australian Dietary Guidelines and demonstrates a contribution to long term community-based food security outcomes.

Not addressing issues of diet and nutrition is having massive lifestyle and economic consequences as has been found in recent studies (referenced below). Having consistent measurable standards of food relief can in part help address some of these issues and contribute towards improving long term health and personal wellbeing.

It is estimated that annual productivity loss potentially attributed to individual risk factors is between $840 million and $14.9 billion for obesity, up to $10.5 billion due to tobacco; between $1.1 billion and $6.8 billion for excess alcohol consumption; up to $15.6 billion due to physical inactivity and $561 million for individual dietary risk factors. 1

Almost 40 percent of the national burden of disease is preventable and due to key modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diet, harmful consumption of alcohol or lack of physical activity. 2

We are committed to this process and are willing to come under this scrutiny to ensure the best food security outcomes for all Tasmanians.

1 Crosland, P. Ananthapavan, J. Davison, J, Lambert, M. and Carter, R. (2019), The Economic Cost of Preventable Disease in Australia: a Systematic Review of Estimates and Methods. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43: 484-495.

2 Britt, H, Miller, G.C., Henderson, J., Bayram, C., Harrison, C., Valenti, L., Pan, Y., Charles, J., Pollack, A.J., Wong, C. and Gordon, J., 2016. General Practice Activity in Australia 2015–16. Sydney University Press

We provide education and training that can change the future

LFT is committed to education and training in two key ways:

1.) Helping all Tasmanians understand the importance of local and seasonal food, what foods are best to eat, and how and where to access them

2.) By using every opportunity within our organisation to provide training and employment for vulnerable Tasmanians in key food-related areas such as hospitality, commercial cookery, warehousing, agriculture and business administration

5. We always stand ready to change and adapt to new, innovative community-based solutions.

With our strong commitment to truly address food hunger, build better food systems in Tasmania that will help to establish food resilient communities and less dependency on food relief, we know things need to change. We are ready to change when needed.

One example is the more recent partnership with School Food Matters. We see the School Lunch Program is a vital step forward in moving from relief to resilience. It is a worldwide proven approach that addresses key issues such as equitable access to food, education and learning around food skills and knowledge, better understanding around nutrition and health, improved socialisation and connection for students, and a positive impact on student attendance and behaviour.

By Andrew Hillier, CEO
(Published 03/05/2023)