I am so proud of what Produce to the People Tasmania has achieved. We have pioneered the fresh round of food security projects in the North West of the state and over the years made a difference in thousands of people’s lives by just giving them fresh vegetables.
We established the Veggie Garden at the Burnie Community House which led to their Fresh Food Pantry which has led to them being VERY successful in getting grants for other food related projects. We put a HUGE veggie crate garden in at Somerset Primary which led to our very successful Snack Garden project in many NW Primary Schools which then led us to delivering fresh, locally grown veggies each week to 20 Primary Schools. We took Green Jobs Corp crews on veggie delivering adventures and got them making soup each week for “Kommunity Kids”, building and maintaining veggie gardens in various places. We’ve created jobs and we’ve had the most marvellous volunteers I could ever imagine help out. We have met gorgeous and generous farmers and loads of backyard growers and local business owners who totally get what we do. We have had such wonderful adventures.
I have to tell you though, the world of “community services” is cut throat. Much more so than any corporate or creative business I have ever been involved in. “Food” projects are increasingly popular and the requirement to collaborate but compete for the few funds out there seem to put people into a frenzy of win at all costs. I have never, pardon the pun, been led down so many garden paths, had so many “let’s collaborate” conversations only to have my ideas used sans PttP involvement. I mean it really has been quite soul destroying at times.
Every year. Every single one of our five years we have had to plead our case to our funders. For the past few years that’s been State and Federal Government.
It seems this year our words have fallen on very deaf ears.
I can officially tell you that our Federal funding is over. Yep, 100% of our Federal funding gone. Of course we can re-apply AGAIN this month but the new guidelines show that national coverage is required and there is only one million in funding for ALL of Australia. Even if we were successful we would see no $’s until January 2015.
A similar story seems to be evolving on a State level as well. Emergency Food Relief funding ends at the end of June and the new government do not intend to hand down their first budget until the end of August. In fact I just had a call from the State government. They will give us $10K to continue our work until the end of December with no mention of anything further in the budget. There was some mention of us becoming financially sustainable on that amount as well. Ummmm??? * see note below for update
Our pitch to state and federal government had been to consider matching their funding on an ongoing basis for three years which meant we could actually build capacity, become a better “risk” for potential funders and really give us the opportunity to become financially self reliant. At the end of the three years – not self sufficient – no more funding.
Instead, overall we’ve had an 80% cut to our total funding.
It looks like it’s going to be a long, cold, hungry winter for the most disadvantaged in our State.
I’ve made calls, I’ve sent emails, I’ve tweeted and I’ve been into offices. I’ve waited weeks for a call back from anyone but it seems like feeding the most vulnerable is not high on anyone’s list of priorities. Anyone with their hands on the purse strings that is.
We have tried, and tried again to get business models off the ground that would mean we could sustain ourselves outside of grants. Great ideas. You would cry or scream or perhaps laugh out loud if I told you some of the stories that have foiled us. Take me for coffee, maybe even lunch one day and I will tell you all about it! There is so much innovation and entrepreneurship in Tassie, I am just not sure why there is such hesitance to support INNOVATION in social profit.
And now I’m tired of waiting and I’m tired of being polite about it.
So we can take the State govt $10k and do nothing of long term significance for the next 6 months, or politely refuse those funds. I have been talking with our advisory committee brainstorming various ways we might realistically continue and lets just say that at this stage we might just go off grid and rely on the kindness of the community to keep things happening.
Which is great, though it does mean that along with ALL THAT FOOD maybe just going back into landfill, there will be three more people without paid work in the North West.
Produce to the People will live on. I have ideas coming out the wahoo and some are sure to stick. So watch this space, and remember
and love the one you’re with
BIG love xx
* The $10745 from State is in fact “to provide a business plan that demonstrates how it will increase its self sustainability by 31 December.”
Given that this means 100% of our project funding is gone it makes this proposition all the more interesting.