Case Study

Victorian Regional Foodshare organisations

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Victorian Regional Foodshare organisations

Project Overview

Victorian Regional Foodshare organisations

Key Services
Theory of change | Impact strategy | Outcomes framework | Social Return on Investment (SROI) | Data visualisation

The number of people in Victoria who experience food insecurity is surprisingly high. Many studies estimate in excess of 10 per cent of the Victorian population experiences some form of food insecurity each year. This has been steadily increasing and the impact of COVID-19 saw yet another jump in incidence of people going without food or making hard choices just to keep food on the table.

In response, a wide range of government departments, community organisations, food retailers, food manufacturers and primary producers have formed a complex ecosystem to bring food relief to many people experiencing food insecurity.

Victoria’s Foodshare organisations play a vital role in this ecosystem, helping to feed disadvantaged and isolated regional communities experiencing food insecurity. They access food through rescued, donated and purchased sources that they make available to local charities, community groups and schools to feed local people experiencing food insecurity.

Think Impact partnered with Open Food Network to conduct a year-long study with four Foodshare organisations – Albury Wodonga Regional Foodshare, Bendigo Foodshare, Shepparton Foodshare and Warrnambool & District Food Share – to:

  • estimate the social, environmental and economic impact of Foodshare, using the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology
  • assess the current and future demand for food relief in each of the four regions
  • develop the capacity of the Foodshares to use the evidence of their value to support a sustainable business model through ongoing funding.

A collective report was also prepared with recommendations for improving the sustainability of the Regional Food Security Alliance, which consists of the four aforementioned Foodshare organisations along with the Geelong Food Relief Centre and Mildura Food Hub.

The impact of regional Foodshare organisations

The four Foodshare organisations distributed over 2,500,000 kgs of food to an estimated 91,000 adults and children in 2020. The regions they service compromise 42 per cent of Victoria’s regional population.

Using the SROI methodology, it is estimated that $96.55M of social, economic and environmental value was created by the four Foodshares.

  • For every dollar of input value invested, $4.17 of social, economic and environmental value is created.
  • For every dollar of financial investment, $66.44 of social, economic and environmental value is created.

The Foodshares were found to perform an essential service as sourcers, redistributors, first responders and rapid mobilisers. They are seen as local experts, a local voice in the sector, and as local resilience builders.

[Because of Foodshare], we can give families a sense of community and provide basic needs they are entitled to. It makes a big difference that kids can go to school with a lunch and that parents can provide for their children. – Community agency representative

Supporting Foodshares to strengthen their operations

The report identified ten strategic priorities for developing the Foodshare network and recommendations to achieve them, with a focus on enhancing services and facilities, increasing funding and alliances, advocacy and shared measurement.

The evidence base has informed strategic and fundraising plans developed by the Foodshare organisations and Regional Food Security Alliance.

Cathie Steele, Board member and former Chair of Bendigo Foodshare and instigator of the Regional Food Security Alliance, said:

The SROI results have been invaluable for discussions with governments at the local, regional and state level – being able to talk in the language of dollars and outcomes. The data has also validated and reinforced the need for the Regional Food Security Alliance, with government now advocating for us.

Think Impact was chosen for this project because of our previous strategy and impact measurement experience, and for our use of the scientific, validated and internationally recognised methodology, SROI.

Our collaborators in impact