The Aussie Farmers Foundation and Foodbank have joined forces to fight the battle against hunger in rural and regional Australia.  The new ‘Meals for Mates’ program will see the Aussie Farmers Foundation help Foodbank provide more than a million meals over the next 12 months for rural Australians in need.

Julia Hunter, Executive Officer of the Aussie Farmers Foundation, said thousands of rural families regularly struggled to access sufficient food. “As a Foundation that exists to tackle the most pressing issues facing rural and regional Australia, we’re thrilled to work with Foodbank on a program that will put food on the table for thousands of country Australians,” Ms Hunter said.  The Aussie Farmers Foundation will fund ‘Meals for Mates’ for an initial two years through a cash grant. Aussie Farmers Direct, which created the Foundation in 2010, will also support ‘Meals for Mates’ through product donations and fundraising activities.

Ms Hunter said the Aussie Farmers Foundation first partnered with Foodbank for last year’s Project Rudolph campaign. This campaign provided Christmas hampers, generously donated by Aussie Farmers Direct customers, to Australian families in need at Christmas time.  “Project Rudolph was a great success with over 800 struggling families receiving a nutritious Christmas meal. But this is just the beginning, both Aussie Farmers Direct customers and our Foundation donors care deeply about the welfare of Australian rural communities. Through the ‘Meals for Mates’ program, we will be doing all we can to highlight the issue of food insecurity in regional Australia and get healthy food into the hands of men, women and children across the country.”

Foodbank Australia CEO Geoff Starr said “We are very excited about our new partnership with Aussie Farmers Foundation. The issue of food insecurity in regional Australia often doesn’t receive the same attention as the problems in our metro areas. But the need is no less urgent. In fact, those living in remote areas are at greater risk of food insecurity than their urban counterparts as, on average, food is up to 50% more expensive in remote communities.”

The ‘Meals for Mates’ program will contribute towards Foodbank’s Key Staples Program allowing Australia’s largest food relief organisation to provide key items such as breakfast cereals, milk, pasta and sausages to rural and regional areas, along with the fruit and vegetable donations from farmers. The Aussie Farmers Foundation has granted an initial $30,000 to support Meals for Mates in 2016.