The perception that our nation is the Lucky Country does not resonate with the more than four million Aussies who have gone hungry in the past year, a report by Foodbank Australia suggests.
Based on two surveys – one which quizzed charities and another aimed at individuals seeking food – the report revealed that the number of people desperate for a meal was growing each year.
The most common reason (30 per cent) cited for not being able to afford food was because the individual was on a pension or low income.
Of those seeking help with food, 14 per cent of them were older than 65 years.
Hunger was also more prevalent in regional and rural areas than in the cities, said Foodbank, which distributes food through 2600 charities around Australia.
The not-for-profit organisation, which partners with grocers and food producers, said in the past 12 months, 18 per cent of the population at some point ran out of food and were unable to buy more.
“Of these, more than three in four are categorised as having very low food security,” the report said.
“The charities and community groups that work with Foodbank provide food relief to over 710,000 Australians every month. Despite this, these organisations are struggling to keep up with demand with 49 per cent of them reporting that the number of people seeking food relief continues to increase year on year.
“In the past 12 months, the proportion of food-insecure Australians seeking food relief has increased from 46 per cent to 51 per cent, the equivalent of 384,000 people.”
Foodbank said some welfare groups were so low on supplies that seven per cent of individuals looking for food were turned away each month and just over a third of charities felt they were meeting the full needs of those seeking a meal. Other findings of the report include:
- almost half of those who went hungry cited not being able to afford food because of bills, such as rent, that needed to be paid
- almost two in three Australians in regional and remote areas (65 per cent) feel stressed as a result of not having enough food, compared to just over half (54 per cent) of those living in major and capital cities
- 26 per cent of individuals feeling food insecurity have gone an entire day without eating
- 54 per cent have skipped one meal and 56 per cent have reduced the size of their meal.
In one case study, a man aged between 55 and 64 years told Foodbank that he felt “worthless” about not having enough food.
“(It) was exacerbated when I scavenged food from the rubbish bin at a local fast food place. It enabled me to eat, but I was abused by passers-by,” the Adelaide man said.
The report comes as the organisation sends a call out to Australians to consider donating food for the Christmas period.
“Everyone in Australia should have enough safe and nutritious food to thrive,” Foodbank said. “A country with zero hunger can positively impact our economy, health, education, equality and social development.
“Achieving zero hunger is fundamental to building a better future for everyone.”
Do you know of anyone who has gone hungry lately? What should the Government do to ensure no Australian ever goes hungry?
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