Established in 2013 and governed by an experienced volunteer Board, Bendigo Foodshare sources donated and rescued food that would have once ended up in landfill. 250+ volunteers and over 260 partner organisations help us get this food out to vulnerable people each week across Central Victoria through food relief programs in schools, kindergartens and childcare centres, large charities, and small community and church groups.

We know we will never meet demand and understand that food relief is only part of the solution to increasing food security, so we partner with organisations to increase access to food relief and build skills in growing, cooking and sharing food. We do this by delivering hands-on empowering initiatives that lead to social change, more resilient families, and stronger communities.

recent report measured the social, environmental and economic impact of Bendigo Foodshare using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. It found that for every dollar of value (including donated time) invested in Bendigo Foodshare during the 2020/21 financial year, $3.72 of value was created. If based solely on the financial investment required to create this value, the return increases to $46.34 of social value for every dollar.

Taking action on the issues of food waste and food poverty in our region

Australia produces enough food to feed approximately 60 million people each year. So why do we then throw out 4 million tonnes of food every year, while 2.2 million Australians live in poverty? Last year, Foodbank’s annual Hunger Report found that nationally, 1 in 6 adults didn’t have enough food to eat and 1.2 million children went hungry. That’s 1 in 5 Aussie kids who went hungry!

The City of Greater Bendigo’s Active Living Census in 2019 found on average 1 in 9 households were food insecure, and as high as 2 in 10 households in some suburbs. These figures are likely to have understated food insecurity levels due to the barriers and stigmas associated with asking for help. A 2021 SROI Report commissioned by Bendigo Foodshare tells a compelling story of the enormous value Bendigo Foodshare generates for the Greater Bendigo community. In 2020/21, an estimated 30,092 people in Central Victoria (17% of the population) who were unable to adequately put food on the table received food thanks to Bendigo Foodshare.

At Bendigo Foodshare, over the pandemic, we experienced a 30% increase in the demand for food relief, which is hard to accurately measure, because as much food as we can get in goes straight back out to food relief agencies. Our food relief agencies are telling us they need more; we’re not meeting their demand. One agency has recently reported that last year they had 30 households coming through their doors each week. Now they’re up to 50 and counting.

Foodbank’s annual Hunger Report reported that two in five people receiving food relief don’t get enough food for their household needs. Many of the people coming forward for help have never had to reach out before in their lives; one in three people struggling to meet their food needs are new to the situation, while 64% of people experiencing food insecurity have a job.

There are a lot of barriers and negative stigma to asking for help; it’s an absolute last resort. There is so much shame attached, and people always think there are others worse off than them, more deserving of the help. So, by the time people come forward, they are really stressed and sadly, really hungry. More than half of the people impacted by severe food insecurity go a whole day every week without eating.

In 2021, Bendigo Foodshare sourced 823,000kg of food valued at $6.2 million and redirected it to food relief. Saving this food from landfill contributed to saving 1,739 tonnes of greenhouse gases and conserving 116 million litres of water. Around 60% of this food was sourced locally; either rescued (reducing supermarket waste); donated (enabling the local community to give local and take positive action towards a healthier community); or purchased locally (supporting the local economy).

Bendigo Foodshare’s volunteer-based operations empowers and supports 200+ volunteers who benefit from the multiple health and wellbeing outcomes of volunteering, such as taking part in meaningful activities that respond to a community problem and developing relationships with other volunteers and community members. Volunteers also gain hands on experience in food handling and distribution and develop an understanding about food insecurity, improving their employability.

All of these social and environmental outcomes have recently been recognised through the successful accreditation of our food relief operations as a social enterprise, through Social Traders.

Bendigo Foodshare is now a certified social enterprise

Social Traders provides the only Social Enterprise certification in Australia, which gives the assurance that Bendigo Foodshare has been independently verified as a social enterprise, so you can be confident in donating to, sponsoring and/or working with our organisation.

Certification is important as it identifies true Social Enterprises; associated individuals and organisations can have confidence that the Social Enterprise model really does create social or environmental impact through trade.