Coles has launched its annual appeal for food rescue organisation, SecondBite, allowing customers to purchase $2 donation cards and help support Australians who have been hit hardest by COVID-19.
SecondBite has released new research showing three out of four community food charities are experiencing higher demand from vulnerable Australians in comparison with last year.
Also, 29 per cent of food charities’ volunteers are declining because of the pandemic, while 27 per cent are experiencing disruptions to their regular meal services.
Customers who purchase a $2 donation card at Coles will provide the equivalent of ten meals for vulnerable Australians this winter, according to SecondBite ambassador and board director Matt Preston.
“The need for food relief is even more urgent this winter due to the impact of COVID-19,” Preston said.
“Almost 80 per cent of our charity and community partners surveyed saw an increase in demand for their food relief programs compared to last year.
“As many charities rely on volunteers to deliver their services, COVID-19 has also impacted their ability to respond. Nearly 30 per cent of our charity partners saw a decline in volunteer numbers and are experiencing ongoing disruption affecting their ability to meet demand,” he said.
All donations that customers provide at Coles will go towards the winter SecondBite appeal, Coles chief sustainability, property and export officer Thinus Keevé said.
“It’s now 10 years since we began our partnership with SecondBite and together we have donated the equivalent of more than 148 million meals to those doing it tough in our communities,” Keevé said.
“The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in more Australians needing support to feed their families than ever before. By purchasing a $2 donation card at Coles this winter, our customers will be helping SecondBite to continue its essential services of supporting community food partners and feeding Aussies in need.”
One of the charities supported by SecondBite is The Big Umbrella in Melbourne’s inner city, which provides meals to vulnerable locals including people on low incomes or affected by homelessness.
The charity’s demand for food relief has tripled since the start of COVID-19 in March last year, according to The Big Umbrella’s CEO and founder Justin Dickinson.
“COVID has really affected how we provide food relief and we’ve constantly had to change our services to meet the demand and abide by different COVID restrictions,” Dickinson said.
“Pre-COVID, we were providing 150 to 200 meals for people in need which increased to 2,700 meals a week during stage 4 lockdowns. Some 48,000 home cooked meals made from fresh produce donated from the Coles and SecondBite Community Food Program were provided during this period. It’s truly amazing what can be achieved when we all work together.
“When there are no restrictions, we run a buffet style meal service where people can sit down, share a meal and have a chat with our volunteers. But we’ve found it’s much harder now for people who need food relief as they are still anxious about receiving food in crowded areas,” he said.
The Big Umbrella also provides emergency food relief services to communities affected by natural disasters, such as the 2019-20 bushfires, and more recently severe storms in the Dandenong Ranges.
“Our emergency food relief service in Kalorama and Upwey provided over 3,200 home cooked meals and 1,860 kgs of fresh produce and aid relief in just 11 days,” Dickinson said.
In the past year, nearly 850 Coles supermarkets and delivery centres across Australia donated surplus fresh food through SecondBite, to around 1,300 community food programs providing meals to Australians facing tough times.
Coles is also donating 10 cents to SecondBite for every Coles Kitchen 300g soup sold until 31 October. The donations apply to the Coles Kitchen 300g soup range including hearty flavours like Butternut Pumpkin, Chicken and Sweet Corn, and Chicken and Vegetable.
The Coles SecondBite Winter Appeal $2 donation cards are available at Coles supermarkets nationally until 27 July.