Over the last 18 months we have witnessed how extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances have the potential to upturn the lives of any of us. Whether it’s as far reaching as the COVID-19 pandemic, or the daily challenges faced by some to make ends meet, every Tasmanian must have access to sufficient, quality and nutritious food when they need it most.
We know many people access food relief when they reach crisis point, and that it’s a short-term solution until things improve. But from our front-line services, it’s clear that many more are needing to rely on food relief in the long-term.
We need a long-term plan, which is why we have developed Tasmania’s Food Relief to Food Resilience Strategy.
Providing food relief creates an opportunity to start a conversation - to find support, to connect to each other, and build a path to food resilience.
While the pandemic has shown us uncertainty and challenge, it has also shown the great strength, cooperation and dedication of our food relief providers and their communities, passionate about supporting individuals and families across the State to be food secure.
The pandemic has also highlighted the need to better connect these support services, so that they can work together for the benefit of all.
While some of these are funded by Government, others are grassroots, community-owned and led. Some are navigating the distribution of surplus produce, providing low or no cost food, operating food enterprises, or delivering food hampers or ready to eat meals. Others offer social opportunities to participate in community gardens, cooking and nutrition programs, and sit-down meals.
All of these organisations play a critical role in supporting the food resilience, and long-term food security, of those most in need and we thank them and their passionate teams, including the dedicated volunteers, for helping ensure food gets to those who need it most.
Long-term solutions require a shared understanding that the food relief system which is highly complex.
Tasmania’s regionally dispersed population and large national food relief organisations have limited operations in the State, which is why connection and collaboration is key to finding solutions.
This Strategy will help ensure the viability of our food relief system into the future. It provides a blueprint to harness the innovation and collaboration we have witnessed to respond to demand, to find ways to create a sustainable and connected system that helps ensure all Tasmanians can access healthy, nutritious food wherever they may live.
Critical to this goal is the knowledge and expertise our communities hold about local need – and fostering the strengths and resources of state-wide and local organisations.
The Tasmanian Government will now work with the food relief sector to co-design an Action Plan, that will identify the activities we will undertake to support the food relief sector and their community partners to continue their critical work.
I thank all involved in the development of this Strategy, and I look forward to continuing to work together as we support the long-term food security of all Tasmanians.
The Hon Jeremy Rockliff MP
Minister for Community Services and Development