Charitable food systems’ capacity to address food insecurity: An Australian capital city audit

Christina M. Pollard, Bruce Mackintosh, Cathy Campbell, Deborah Kerr, Andrea Begley, Jonine Jancey, Martin Caraher, Joel Berg, Sue Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Australian efforts to address food insecurity are delivered by a charitable food system (CFS) which fails to meet demand. The scope and nature of the CFS is unknown. This study audits the organisational capacity of the CFS within the 10.9 square kilometres of inner-city Perth, Western Australia. A desktop analysis of services and 12 face-to-face interviews with representatives from CFS organisations was conducted. All CFS organisations were not-for–profit and guided by humanitarian or faith-based values. The CFS comprised three indirect services (IS) sourcing, banking and/or distributing food to 15 direct services (DS) providing food to recipients. DS offered 30 different food services at 34 locations feeding over 5670 people/week via 16 models including mobile and seated meals, food parcels, supermarket vouchers, and food pantries. Volunteer to paid staff ratios were 33:1 (DS) and 19:1 (IS). System-wide, food was mainly donated and most funding was philanthropic. Only three organisations received government funds. No organisation had a nutrition policy. The organisational capacity of the CFS was precarious due to unreliable, insufficient and inappropriate financial, human and food resources and structures. System-wide reforms are needed to ensure adequate and appropriate food relief for Australians experiencing food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1249
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018


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