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     Pictured: Loaves and Fishes Tasmania

7 grants made responding to hunger and job insecurity

The StreetSmart SmartMeals program is just over 3 years old. It was launched as a rapid response to the closing of food relief services across the community as COVID-19 struck. Volunteering stopped and lock downs began.  This was a tough situation for so many vulnerable people who relied on community meals programs, food boxes and drop-in centres.  Something needed to happen fast so we quickly funded the production of meals at closed restaurants, funded through our DineSmart grants. These meals used existing and new networks to reach the most vulnerable people. In no time we were raising funds and cooking and distributing 3000 meals per week.  Then in 2021 we started production of meals in partnership with social enterprise food businesses, to help them rebound and rebuild after many had had to close or lost business through the pandemic.  

The impacts of the pandemic are still being felt across the food relief sector, with smaller organisations trying to recover their previous business revenue, while retaining staff and working towards sustainability.  But this isn’t easy as demand for food relief continues to grow, reflecting the pressures many people are living with through the current cost-of-living crisis.

At the same time Government funding has been cut back to pre-pandemic levels.  The Foodbank Hunger Report 2022 noted over 2 million households (21%) have experienced severe food insecurity in the prior 12 months and “…on any given day, over half a million households in Australia are struggling to meet their food need…”. We know the situation has continued to deteriorate since this report was published.

distributed to keep people fed, employed, and in training
meals made through these grants

From our partners…

In 2023 the SmartMeals program is all about alleviating food insecurity through food rescue, food relief and meal production. This grants round provides vital funds to smaller organisations, and we are also still supporting social enterprise food businesses to make community meals, as part of our model to ensure marginalised people have job training and opportunities.

Long time SmartMeals partner Espresso Train create meals and employment opportunities for refugees and others from disadvantaged backgrounds. The team of chefs and trainees from refugee backgrounds have the opportunity to cook nourishing meals twice a week for young people who utilise our cafe space in the evening with support of Red Cross’s ‘Night Cafe’. The recent SmartMeals grant will help make 530 meals for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in central Brisbane.

 “Many of our clients are on the streets because often the streets are safer than home. Many are presenting with physical or emotional trauma. Issues like self-harming, overdoses from different substances, and sometimes wounds from being barefoot. Food costs are soaring, especially nourishing food and access to kitchens and storage is a barrier for creating their own food. This grant will pay for nourishing hot meals for 12-25 year olds who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.” 
Kirsty Leigh, Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative, Meanjin (QLD) (pictured)
New partner The Community Café are on the front line of the cost-of-living crisis in Sydney…“our community has always been a tough place to live, low socio-economic and high-density housing. Add to that the Covid pandemic, recent floods and now the cost-of-living crisis and people are barely surviving. Increasingly many are living way below the poverty line and facing homelessness.” 
Kirsty Parkes, Community Cafe on Cabrogal and Darug Country (NSW) (pictured)

Loaves and Fishes in Tasmania deliver food and hope through 350 community food partners statewide and recently reported to us that one-in-two Tasmanians are now making changes to the amount and type of food they eat as cost-of-living pressures further gouge household food budgets. Their team produce a range of ready to eat meals using surplus, donated foods. The meals are prepared by at risk youth who are completing a hospitality traineeship in the kitchen. The kitchen is located at a Youth Accommodation facility allowing engagement, employment and training pathways. With current demand our meal distribution needs to increase. This Grant will help the organisation to increase capacity to provide fresh, tasty, and nutritious meals to those doing it tough.

 “For many struggling Tasmanians, the distance between no longer needing to rely on food relief and being resilient enough to grow, purchase, prepare and eat safe and nutritious food is a big one. Our current challenges around the cost of living have made this even more so. We must not lose sight of this reality. We must continue to properly resource the immediate needs, while at the same time working towards change.”
Vicky Xypteras, Loaves and fishes on Pannilerpanner and Palawa Country (TAS) (pictured)

May 2023 Grant Recipients

Charity Partner  State  GRANT
Cos We Care SA $3,000.00
Espresso Train Cafe  QLD $4,250.00
It’s the Little Things Community VIC $3,000.00
Loaves and Fishes TAS $4,250.00
Second Harvest WA $3,000.00
The Community Cafe NSW $3,000.00
The Little Social  VIC $4,250.00
Total Grants $24,750.00

Thanks to all our supporters who made these grants possible including regular monthly givers to the SmartMeals program, Rees Group and SPC / Helping Humans. 

StreetSmart is continuing to respond to the increased vulnerability in communities affected by the cost of living and rental crisis as well as plugging gaps in funding and support for frontline homelessness organisations. This winter, StreetSmart are raising funds to help vulnerable Australians who are facing rental stress, eating less meals and can’t afford the basics to make somewhere feel like home. Click the button below to see how you can be involved.