Foodbank provides 60 million meals a year to over 2,400 charities around the country. They are Australia’s largest food relief organisation and last year distributed 33 million kilos of food (that’s 166,000 meals a day!) to Australians in need. Their annual Foodbank Hunger Report offers a snapshot of what they describe as ‘the largely hidden problem of food insecurity in Australia’. Here are some of the key findings from the 2016 report. Food insecurity is alarmingly high in Australia. One in six Australians (18 per cent) said they have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months. Of them, 56 per cent have experienced food insecurity one to three times over the last year, while for 28 per cent of respondents it is regularly.
Charities are struggling to meet the demand, fuelled by an eight per cent increase by those seeking food relief in 2015. Almost half (49 per cent) of Australians who have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months sought help from a charity or community group. Of them, a staggering 43,000 people are turned away without food each month, with 75 per cent of agencies reporting not having enough food to meet current demand.
The face of hunger is diverse.Low-income families and the unemployed were among the most common to receive food relief from charities, at 72 per cent each. Men and women experience food insecurity at a similar frequency at 17 and 19 per cent respectively, while Gen Y (those aged 18-34) are twice as likely to experience food insecurity than the general population.
It doesn’t take much for food insecurity to occur. Not having enough money to start with and unexpected expenses, such as large bills, were the most common reasons given for food insecurity at 44 per cent each. Having to pay the rent or mortgage was also a key reason at 36 per cent. In order to buy food, 46 per cent of respondents borrowed money off family or friends, while 40 per cent didn’t pay bills.
Around 56 per cent of people skipped a meal themselves to help them deal with food insecurity.Half of the respondents made their meals smaller so their food lasted longer. Around 93 per cent of people said lack of food impacted their emotional wellbeing, while feelings of stress (57 per cent), depression (47 per cent) and embarrassment (40 per cent) were common.
Around 644,000 people receive help from Foodbank agencies every month.Foodbank provides 58 per cent of the total food that agencies, such as charities and community groups, require every month. In addition to which the agencies purchase, on average, almost 21 per cent of their own food with donations making up a further 11 per cent.
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