In May 2011 the Heinz company announced that it was developing ‘productivity initiatives to accelerate future growth’. This is multinational corporation speak for closing down factories in one spot and opening them up somewhere else that would be cheaper to operate. Translate this again and it means that not only are real people are out of real jobs but also that those people that buy these products have to rely on imports not on Aussie grown and made.
This vulnerable position is where workers from the Heinz factory in Girgarre, Victoria. The closure of the factory made 146 employees redundant, effecting 600 residents in the Goulburn Valley. However instead of accepting their fate, this group decided to take charge of their own futures.
In the 12 months since the Heinz announcement, the GV Food Cooperative has formed bringing together those people who used to work at the Heinz factory to establish a new project. That new project now has 500 members representing growers, food industry workers, associated businesses and people across the country concerned to promote Australian Food Security.
And so far they have..
• developed a nationally accredited training program for former Heinz workers to equip them with the skills to manage a whole of supply chain (paddock to plate) food enterprise
• developed initiatives with a number of schools where students will be undertaking projects designed to promote food security
• established an Australian Grown Food Company to develop and market new quality food products based on local ingredients and using distribution channels that do not rely on the two big supermarket chains
Very impressive stuff ..
Most excitingly is tomorrow is the launch date for the first product offering by the GV Food Coop, a pasta and sauce meal. It will be marketed through Coop Members, local IGA stores and supporting retail and food service businesses in the region. As part of the launch, a forum will be held to discuss issues around Food Insecurity in Australia. There will also be a presentation to 10 local schools with the inaugural GV Food Security Education Awards of up to $2000 each. This program has been funded through our membership in partnership with regional organisations and supporters. The launch and forum will be held at Kyabram Community Learning Centre 9.30 – 4.30, tomorrow July 18th.