In Australia, there are too many families who cannot afford enough fresh and healthy food to meet their basic needs. Foodbank Australia’s research indicates that over four million Australians live in households where they have run out of food during the year and have been unable to buy more.  More than one in five Australian children are estimated to live in households affected by food insecurity. 
Everyone deserves to feed their families well and to have the ability to thrive – but sometimes, because of challenging and unfair personal, social and political circumstances, access to healthy food may be limited. The stress of not knowing where your next meal or your child’s school lunch is coming from can compound the difficulty of any situation.
Based on a belief that in a plentiful and lucky country like ours, fresh produce should be able to be enjoyed by all, the team at The Fruit Box Group launched a social initiative in 2017 called The One Box. Our initiative aims to address a real need within communities where a high proportion of families are struggling to purchase enough fresh, healthy produce for their school-aged children and growing teenagers.
The fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and bread included in each box are purchased, not rescued, from local markets in each state and hand-packed at The Fruit Box Group’s state operations facilities. The donated boxes are then distributed by over forty community partners and primary schools across Australia, direct to families requiring support. Produce from The One Box is then used for school lunch boxes and hearty meals for the whole family.
Our research and experience have highlighted that for many people struggling to afford enough food, only being able to access unhealthy, rescued food of poor quality from other food relief services can come with a mixed bag of emotions. Vanessa Bonica, CEO of Hope City Mission in Croydon, Victoria, says:
“Hope City Mission made the decision a month before starting with The One Box that we were no longer going to take rescued fruit and veggies. We were seeing people’s sense of identity and self-worth being impacted when they were given rescued food. The One Box has enabled us to provide produce of such high quality to fifty families a week and helped us to achieve what we wanted to see – people in crisis feeling that they are worth more!”
In Clarinda, Victoria, Kris Jack from Kingston City Church says that the high quality, nutritious food provided by The One Box makes families feel genuinely cared for:
“If there is one thing that The One Box program gets across to me, it’s that it wants families to feel valued, that it cares about them, that they’re not the second best in society. It’s amazing… the bananas are so yellow and the celery is so fresh that it snaps – our bananas are only good for banana bread. Our families are just amazed and they will just sit there and look at the food… With the food we get from The One Box, I can look our community members in the eye and say, you know what, we love you, we care about you and you matter to us.”
The team at The Fruit Box Group believe so strongly in the value of The One Box. By providing a regular delivery of fresh, high-quality, healthy food for people to access from places they are already comfortable seeking support and community from, we think we have a better chance at helping families to feel nourished and supported during tough times.
We are proud to invest not just in people being able to eat, but in people eating well.
Written by Vivien Yii, Research Coordinator at The Fruit Box Group
References and further reading
1. Foodbank Australia, McCrindle Research. Foodbank Hunger Report 2018 [Internet]. New South Wales: Foodbank Australia; 2018 [cited 2019 Apr 24]. 28p. Available from: https://www.foodbank.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-Foodbank-Hunger-Report.pdf
2. Foodbank Australia, McCrindle Research. Rumbling Tummies: Child Hunger in Australia [Internet]. New South Wales: Foodbank Australia; 2018 [cited 2019 Apr 24]. 32p. Available from: https://www.foodbank.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Rumbling-Tummies-Full-Report-2018.pdf