LETTER TO THE EDITOR
15% of children from food insecure homes go to school without lunch.
11% of children from food insecure homes go to bed without eating dinner.
This might seem unfathomable to many. But it is the stark reality for many thousands of desperate parents seeking food relief through our charity partners.
In my travels around Victoria I’ve heard of kids chewing paper at school to stave off hunger, missing out on birthday parties because there’s no food to share with friends, and of parents’ utter despair at being unable to provide the most basic necessity – food – for their children.
While people are quick to judge and label parents irresponsible, assuming they spend all their money on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, the reality is the main cause of this crisis is the increasing cost of living.
There’s already been plenty of talk about this. Stagnant wages, casualisation of the workforce, skyrocketing costs of housing, health insurance and energy.
This week the Australian Institute of Family Studies published research that found the weekly costs of raising one child range from $140 for unemployed families and $170 for low-paid families
With the national minimum wage currently sitting at $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax), you can see how a single income household, with two or three kids, struggles to cover rent or mortgage repayments, utilities, trans- port, education, insurances, clothing and food costs.
So what would you do to keep afloat? I imagine like the parents in our survey you’d skip paying bills, borrow money, pawn household items, rack up credit card debt and go without food yourself to feed your kids. Despite all these measures, there are still children going to school or bed hungry and sometimes not eating anything at all for an entire day.
We cannot blame and shame parents when we have a minimum wage and income support system that is failing. It’s failing and it’s impacting our kids, our future. Regards,
Dave McNamara Foodbank Victoria CEO