Hungry Aussies are fed up
Bills, drought force millions to seek food handouts
SURGING living costs and a prolonged drought have led to a staggering 4 million Australians seeking food handouts in the past 12 months – 424,000 more than 2017.
Stark new figures in the 2018 Foodbank Hunger Report, to be released today, show regional and rural areas have been hardest hit, and the demand is so great that tens of thousands of people can’t be helped.
Big bills, such as electricity, reduced income, and unexpected expenses linked to job losses, health issues, relationship breakdowns and cars top the list of reasons people seek help to put food on the table.
Foodbank, the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia, conducts surveys that measure “food insecurity’’ – when people can’t always afford to eat so they skip or reduce the size and frequency of meals, sometimes for weeks on end. Some parents forgo food so their children can eat.
Foodbank Queensland chief executive Michael Rose said all around Australia there were people who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.
He said the hunger report revealed that in the past financial year, more than 4 million people – 18 per cent of the population – had, at some point, run out of food and been unable to buy more .
Mr Rose said the charities and community groups that worked with Foodbank provided relief to 710,000 Australians every month, 26 per cent of whom were under 19.
“In Queensland, we are now helping almost 200,000 people each month with the help of 281 agencies,” he said, adding that 50,550 people nationwide – 12,400 of them in Queensland – could not be helped due to the overwhelming demand.
He said a trend in the latest snapshot was that regional and rural areas, particularly in Queensland and NSW, were struggling more than their city counterparts. Almost 1.5 million in regional and rural areas had required help.
Mr Rose said this could be attributed to the loss of income caused by the drought and its knock-on effects.
“The latest report shows Australians living in regional and remote areas are 33 per cent more likely to experience food insecurity than those living in cities,’’ he said.
Foodbank collects food donated by farmers, supermarkets and manufacturers to distribute 5.5 million meals per month through charities and schools. To help, go to foodbank.org.au.
ON COURSE: Matt Gillett, Wally Lewis and Gene Miles are poised for some golfing action. Picture: Adam Head