What We Heard

Consultations were undertaken to better understand how, through collaboration, We Can All Support Tasmanians in need to become more food secure, to improve the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians.

The collaboration demonstrated in local responses to COVID-19, and the Tasmanian Government’s ongoing consultation with the food relief sector, have heavily influenced the development of this Strategy.

To develop this Strategy, consultation was undertaken with the food relief sector, including individual food relief providers, and Tasmanian Government agencies with financial or operational investment in food production and distribution.

These consultations were undertaken  to better understand  how, through collaboration, We Can All Support, Tasmanians in need  to become  more food  secure, to improve the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians.

This Strategy has been informed by:

  • A point-in-time survey of established food relief providers for the development of the EFR Geospatial Mapping Project (noted above);
  • Data provided by the Tasmanian School Canteen Association, the Commonwealth Data Exchange (DEX) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics;
  • The Tasmanian Government Food Relief Community Reference Group, established to inform the development of this Strategy;
  • The Tasmanian Government Food Relief Steering Committee, established to provide strategic oversight for this Strategy;
  • A review of available food relief and food security literature;
  • A jurisdictional analysis of Australian approaches to food relief and food security; and
  • Collation of current Tasmanian Government initiatives impacting food relief, including the Healthy Tasmania Strategic Plan, and the work of the Premier’s Health and Wellbeing Advisory Council.

Key findings of the Tasmanian Government’s EFR Geospatial Mapping project include:

  • The complexity of Tasmania’s food relief system, with a range of different organisations providing varied services, that in most cases do not operate in a collaborative way;
  • A potentially high reliance on the purchasing of food from local supermarkets or private donations by organisations;
  • The breadth of food relief offered across schools, sometimes providing emergency food relief for students, their families and the wider community. These are not just school breakfast programs but may also include distribution of food hampers and other features similar to a community food hub;
  • Potential food ‘deserts’ or ‘clusters’ of services and service providers located in one geographic location;
  • Potential to harness efforts for collaboration and coordination amongst food relief providers;
  • The flexibility and fluidity of some food relief providers, noting that this survey did not include ‘pop up’ EFR;
  • Difficulties measuring fluctuating demand;
  • Definitions of food relief are ill-defined with an assumption that emergency food relief is accessed by Tasmanians in times of crisis for short periods of time, when we know that many Tasmanians rely on food relief for long periods of time due to long-term food insecurity, caused by a range of factors such as financial resources, employment and a lack of knowledge around sourcing and preparing food; and
  • At a point in time, 282 organisations appear on the map, including State funded school programs, State funded neighbourhood houses and local organisations not funded but receiving food from Tasmanian funded state-wide distributors.

There is potential to harness efforts for collaboration and coordination amongst food relief providers.

Further consultation with the Food Relief Community Reference group and its members’ networks, and the Government Steering Committee was undertaken to  explore  the finding of the Emergency Food Relief Geospatial Mapping Project.

Stakeholders were provided with a consultation paper focused on transitioning those in need from food relief to food resilience, coupled with a joint workshop of key Government and food relief stakeholders.

Agencies and the community sector told us that:

  • Food insecurity is becoming less an emergency and more a long-term and, in some cases, intergenerational problem;
  • The lived experience of Tasmanians in vulnerable circumstances must be reflected in the development and delivery of responses that support the transition to food relief;
  • There are gaps in transport logistics and infrastructure between food retail, food rescue and food relief organisations;
  • During COVID-19 the demand for food relief exceeded the levels of available supplies in some regional communities;
  • Food relief needs to meet the nutritional, cultural and social needs of Tasmanians in need;
  • There is a need to ensure that local service providers are integrated with state-wide distributors and other organisations to best deliver support to Tasmanians in need;
  • There is a wide range of food relief models, ranging from ‘pop up’ initiatives offering food to those in need, to established walk-in food relief providers, food vouchers, hampers, ready-to-eat meals, ‘dining with friends programs’, social enterprises providing hospitality training, and food vans;
  • The food relief sector does not exist in isolation and food relief services need to be better integrated with support services for Tasmanians;
  • The food relief sector relies heavily on a volunteer workforce, however, the volunteering sector is facing its own challenges;
  • Many Tasmanians facing food insecurity, particularly for the first time, are unaware of how to access food relief services, feel shame approaching services or think services should go to others more in need;
  • Significant data gaps exist, and we need to develop better evaluation systems to map, monitor and measure the need for, or impact of, food relief services;
  • There needs to be better coordination of food relief activities to improve information sharing, cohesion of efforts and monitoring; and
  • Stakeholders involved in food relief are many and varied and may provide formal or informal support. Stakeholders span areas of expertise including food production, distribution, housing, nutrition, mental health, wellbeing, social networking, community support, housing, education and Local Government.

We have heard that Supporting Tasmanians in Need requires us to actively support this momentum for collective, connected, co-operative community-based solutions.