People with Purpose: Putting the bite on food insecurity

Posted on 06 Oct 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia


From improving animal welfare to shining a light on poverty and combatting food insecurity amid the cost-of-living crisis, Emma Watts, director of fundraising and communication at food relief charity SecondBite, is determined to make a difference.

How would you describe your career in the not-for profit sector?

I’ve worked in a range of sectors, including corporate and government, but the roles I have found most satisfying have definitely been those in the for-purpose space. I can’t see myself ever leaving the sector.

Before working at SecondBite, I headed up fundraising and communication at Wesley Mission Victoria (now Uniting Vic Tas) and communications at RSPCA Victoria.

I have also volunteered for more than 20 years, in a range of for-purpose organisations – particularly in animal welfare. Over the years, I’ve volunteered for RSCPA Victoria, Save-A-Dog Scheme, Lort Smith, Vets for Compassion, Wildlife Victoria, Thin Green Line and Animal Aid.

It’s just something I have always felt compelled to do – it’s part of who I am.

What motivates you to work on behalf of for-purpose organisations?

To be part of the solution to some of the world’s most pressing social issues is incredibly rewarding, and the breadth of causes that you can work for and that align with your values is significant.

Typically, it also means you get to work with like-minded people, who are also committed to making the world a better place.

Although budgets are usually challenging to work within, this also means you get to have a great deal of variety in your role.

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How would you describe the work that SecondBite does?

SecondBite is Australia’s largest food rescue organisation, delivering food free of charge.

We work with food growers, manufacturers and retailers to rescue surplus and unsold edible food that would otherwise be sent to landfill and redistribute it to people who need it most.

By providing the rescued food free of charge, we enable charities to save their money and reinvest it in other services like health and wellbeing programs, counselling, and financial relief services.

We support people with food relief, but our impact is much greater.

Food relief brings people together, to a place where they can access services our partners provide, including health services, financial support, counselling and housing assistance.

The social connections forged are often life-changing.

"By providing the rescued food free of charge, we enable charities to save their money and reinvest it in other services like health and wellbeing programs, counselling, and financial relief services."

What is the biggest challenge your organisation is currently facing?

The ability to meet demand in the current economic environment.


Australia produces three times as much food as we need to feed our population, but the majority of charities connected to SecondBite have told us they’re seeing a cumulative increase in food relief demand, with many people citing rent and utility bills as particularly difficult to manage.

Financial prioritisation has seen parents miss meals so their children can eat, and pensioners skip food so they can keep their heating on.

Families in employment who have never previously required support are among the new faces of food insecure Australians.

There is a growing assertion among charity agencies that today almost any Australian could find themselves food insecure given any set of adverse circumstances.

There is plenty of food to be rescued, so our challenge is to source the funding we need to grow our team, our fleet of trucks and our warehouses, so that we can meet the demand.

What has been your most satisfying moment so far in your current role?

There have honestly been so many.

I feel so lucky to work in an organisation that genuinely makes a difference to people’s lives, but also working with such an incredible group of people who are all there for the same reason.

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