Shepparton Foodshare requests urgent funding

By Spencer Fowler Steen

The only local food rescue agency in the Goulburn Valley has taken a devastating hit to its bottom line due to COVID-19, prompting an urgent request for help from Greater Shepparton City Council.

In a submission to Tuesday's council meeting, Shepparton Foodshare chair Rod Schubert requested an additional $20 000 on top of council's previous $30 000 in support.

Mr Schubert said the group's annual operational costs were set to almost double — from $125 000 to $200 000.

“We see absolutely zero state or federal government support, and due to COVID-19 since March, Foodshare has incurred a costly $25 000 in additional operational expenses and we expect in the next six months a further $45 000 will be required,” he said.

Since 2012, Foodshare has distributed more than 2200 tonnes of food to people in need at an estimated benefit to our community of $6 million.

Foodshare distributes 300 tonnes of food to registered emergency relief agencies, schools, community meals programs and churches each year.

Mr Schubert said additional costs had been incurred for reasons including extra fuel costs for the Foodshare van, technology upgrades, increased freezer capacity, extra staffing requirements and personal protective equipment.

“Food supply, food shares and donations decreased by around 80 per cent, resulting in the need to spend $12 000 to date to purchase necessary food staples — something Foodshare has never had to do before,” he said.

“Due to less food being made available, we’ve had to do many additional trips, equating to an average of an extra $200 per week spent on fuel.

“We need to upgrade our computer systems to cope with increased demand, NBN needs to be connected to cope with increased demand, (we) increased freezer capacity, (and) more trolleys and a forklift is required.”

Mr Schubert said he also expected Foodshare would spend $15 000 on food boxes for deliveries over the next four to six months.

Council will formally consider all submissions and the adoption of the 2020/21 draft budget at the council meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 5.30 pm.