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Australian veg industry recognised for charitable contributions

The Australian fresh produce industry has been recognised for its distinguished service in fighting hunger at the annual Foodbank awards, which were presented at the Australian Food and Grocery Council Industry Leaders Forum at Parliament House.

The Foodbank Purple Beret Award acknowledges the fruit and vegetable industry’s support in helping to raise awareness of food insecurity and providing fresh produce to help fight hunger in the community.

The award was presented by Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Senator Zed Seselja and was received by AUSVEG Director Mr Geoff Knuckey, PMA Australia-New Zealand CEO Mr Darren Keating and Costa Farms and Logistics General Manager Mr Shanon Williams.

“We are proud to accept this award on behalf of the Australian fresh produce industry, which has doubled its fruit and vegetable donations to Foodbank in the last five years,” said AUSVEG CEO Simon Bolles.

“Australia’s vegetable growers have played a key role in donating excess produce to Foodbank this year, in a bid to help families in need benefit from over-supply in the industry.”

“Despite the many challenges that our growers face, including recent adverse weather events, they have continued to support this valuable cause.”

Foodbank is Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation. Through collaboration with the Australian food and grocery industry, which provides surplus and donated product, Foodbank is able to deliver 166,000 meals per day to 2,400 charities and 1,500 schools for distribution to people in need of food relief.

Last year, Foodbank distributed 33 million kilograms of food and groceries, equivalent to 60 million meals, to Australian welfare agencies, charities and schools. Of this total volume, 9.5 million kilograms were fresh fruit and vegetables, which Foodbank has had some difficulty sourcing in the past.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the Australian vegetable industry is over-supply in the domestic market. To help overcome this issue, Australian vegetable growers have been donating to Foodbank to ensure that their fresh produce goes directly to those who need it most,” said Mr Bolles.

“These donated vegetables have been used in prepared meals, food hampers and emergency parcels, with more than 30 per cent of the food heading to rural and regional areas to support local communities.”

“Australian growers and the Australian vegetable industry are honoured by this recognition and value the opportunity provided by Foodbank to donate fresh produce to families in need. Working with an organisation like Foodbank has helped growers ensure that these families across Australia can access fresh produce and enjoy the high quality, fresh vegetables from our own backyard.”
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