Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pandemic hastens hunger problem

One in six Australian adults haven’t had enough to eat in the last year, according to a report by Foodbank. Even more shockingly, 1.2 million children have gone hungry.

The Foodbank Hunger Report provides a snapshot of the prevalence and depth of the issues of food insecurity as well as insights into the day-to-day experience of people in our community who are doing it tough.

The report, now in its 10th year, shows that more than half of people impacted by severe food insecurity go a whole day every week without eating.

It also highlights that the pandemic continues to deliver challenges that are exacerbating pre-existing issues in our community. In addition to those who were already struggling before Covid-19, the pandemic has caused others to experience vulnerability for the first time. In fact, more than 1 in 3 of last year’s food insecure Australians had never been in that position before.

“This is especially disheartening in light of the gains made last year when the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement was able to reduce poverty for so many,” says Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey.

Ms Casey says the issue of food insecurity in Australia has never been more prominent than it is right now.

“The global pandemic has put a spotlight on the crisis that for too long has gone under society’s radar,” she says.

Food insecurity extends beyond vulnerable

The report highlights that food insecurity is not restricted to the ‘obvious’ vulnerability groups in the community such as homeless people and the unemployed. It shows people of every age, living alone, in families and in groups are susceptible.

Food insecurity is shown to affect people in cities right through to those in remote areas and surprisingly, it affects more people in some form of employment (64%) than those who have none.

Ms Casey says the key findings in the report are confronting, but must be acknowledged in order to understand and address the problem.

“Although Foodbank is now providing food relief to a record one million people a month, we know many experiencing hardship feel there are others worse off and don’t ask for help. That is heartbreaking to know, and if there is one thing I can stress, it’s that there is no shame in asking for help, and in fact, it’s exactly what we’re here for. Life happens to us all, and we’re here for everyone,” she says.

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