ONE MILLION MEALS
Times get tougher as demand spreads beyond homeless and unemployed
Bunbury Foodbank delivered a staggering 1,025,991 meals to people doing it tough in the 2017-18 financial year, according to a report highlighting the growing demand on the charity group.
The shocking figure from the 2018 Foodbank Hunger Report represents 20 per cent of the total number of meals distributed across the six branches, with the data revealing people living in regional or remote areas are 33 per cent more likely to experience food insecurity than those living in the city.
Bunbury branch manager Carol Hearn said it was “unimaginable” to think what would happen if Foodbank was not there to help.
“Times have got tougher, it is not as easy as it used to be – I see it day in and day out,” Mrs Hearn said.
“I have been here long enough to be able to take it in and see it progress to a higher amount.
“Before it was mainly the unemployed and the homeless...but there are a lot of people now coming in who are low-income earners or one-income families.”
Despite Foodbank WA providing food for more than half a million meals every month, only 36 per cent of charities believed they were meeting the full needs of the people they helped, yet only 52 per cent of those experiencing food insecurity sought assistance.
Foodbank chief executive Greg Hebble said low incomes coupled with the high cost of living were the main reasons people were struggling to afford enough food for themselves and their families in the South West.
“Almost half of the people surveyed have gone hungry due to an unexpected expense or large bill,” he said.
“The report shows that vulnerable families in regional and remote areas find it harder to access food and when they run out and are unable to afford to buy more, they are more likely to feel embarrassed and unable to talk to friends and family about their situation.”
He said tackling the big problem of hunger was an urgent issue which could not be ignored.
“Food insecurity is a growing problem nationwide, not just in the South West region,” Mr Hebble said.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to implement a Food Security Strategy and we need more corporate and individual supporters to help us.”
The challenges facing charity groups as they try to help those in need have been well documented. In Bunbury, several groups are continually battling to provide basic needs for individuals and families.
With this in mind, figures released this week by Foodbank in Bunbury are startling.
The national organisation, which provides food to various charities and community groups that feed the hungry, served up an incredible 1,025,991 meals in the financial year 2017-18.
The contribution to the Bunbury community represented 20 per cent of Foodbank’s meals delivered across Western Australia.
Clearly, the need for food donations in the region is not going away.
As we get closer to Christmas we will again be reminded of those in need, who without donations from the community will not have enough to enjoy a basic festive meal.
The South West is a generous, giving community and will again come to their aid.
But behind the charity work, measures need to be taken to address the causes of the growth in demand. Government agencies must work with these charities to understand the causes and implement strategies to address them.
Without this approach, demand will continue to increase and more and more people will be battling to put food on the table.
Food Bank Bunbury manager Carol Hearn calls on the community to continue donating to the food service.