Morrison Reverses Foodbank Funding Cut After Public Outcry
Scott Morrison has reversed his government's decision to cut funding to food charity Foodbank after a massive public outcry.
In his Studio 10 appearance on Monday, the prime minister promised to review the decision with the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher, and made good on that promise on Tuesday morning.
"I have listened and decided to increase the Food Relief budget by $1.5 million over the next 4.5 years and have asked the Minister to place more focus on relief in drought affected areas," Morrison tweeted on Tuesday.
It means that Foodbank will maintain its $750,000 per year budget, while food charities Second Bite and OzHarvest -- with which the $4.5 million in funding over four and a half years was split after a "competitive process" -- will maintain their funding as previously announced.
Foodbank's General Manager and company secretary Sarah Pennell told 10 daily that they were thrilled with the funding reversal, but that it's a "drop in the ocean" compared to what is needed to feed Australia's most hungry.
"Reinstating the funding isn't going to stop us advocating to the government that food insecurity is a big issue," Pennel told 10 daily.
"Regardless of whether our funding is reinstated, overall funding is woefully inadequate.
"Like Bill Shorten said yesterday, the government gave $444 million to a Great Barrier Reef charity, and they weren't even expecting it.
"That's the kind of money the government throws at a significant issue, and food insecurity is a significant issue."
About four million Australians are impacted by food insecurity each year, with Foodbank working to feed 710,000 hungry Australians each month.
It works directly with the food industry to provide about $200 million worth of essential staples like rice, pasta, cereals and tinned food that don't come from other rescue channels.
"If there was another issue impacting four million Australians, there'd be action," Pennell said.
Most recently, Foodbank has been working with people in drought affected in areas. With the summer season starting, Pennell said it was "inevitable" that Foodbank would be working with those affected by bushfire.
An urgent review was requested on Monday evening, after Foodbank revealed its funding had been cut in half by $323,000 just weeks out of the busy Christmas period.
Fletcher said on Tuesday morning that he will be inviting Foodbank, Second Bite and OzHarvest to a roundtable discussion to "co-ordinate a continuing collaborative approach to food relief."
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Photo: Foodbank / Facebook.