Australia’s Food Insecurity Issue
Given how lucky Australia is as a nation, our incredible farming and landscape, our healthy economy and financial aid systems – many dismiss that there is in fact a food insecurity issue in Australia.
At least not one that is as prevalent and concerning as it is.
However, the Australian Government estimates that somewhere between 4% and 13% of the general population is food insecure, which increases dramatically to 22% to 32% of the Indigenous population, depending on location.
So with that in mind, we thought we’d take the new year to help unpack the facts – and shed some light on the issue of hunger in Australia and what role we can all play to fix it.
What is causing food insecurity in Australia?
Typically, the main cause of hunger is financial hardship – and often, as we know, nutritional and fresh food can be the most expensive that also requires more storage resources and running costs. However, it can also be a case, or amplified by, limited food literacy around how to purchase and prepare healthy meals.
There’s also often an issue of access for those who may be geographically, or even socially, isolated or with limited access to transport and/or the mobility to travel for proper fresh food acquisition.
Who faces food insecurity in Australia?
It is often for these reasons that those who face food insecurity are the groups considered to be society’s most vulnerable. These typically include low-income earners and single-parent/wage households, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, groups facing cultural or language barriers, the elderly, socially isolated individuals and those experiencing or facing risk of homelessness.
It’s also a key reason that alleviating food insecurity needs to be focused on the provision of services in a manner that maintains human dignity and is socially acceptable.
How can we fix the issue of food insecurity?
Ultimately, there is a role at every level to alleviate hunger. Areas such as public policy and community resources as well as education and service improvements are critical.
However, there’s also an onus on how we as individuals, and collectively as a society, can do more, which is why at Food For Change, we’re looking at addressing the issue in a new and innovative way.
We are looking at how we can put to work all of Australia’s unused land to grow fresh nutritious fruit, vegetables and herbs through our own two farm locations, as well as donated land from others. We also “rescue” food locally, connecting donors with relief organisations to maximise what is available and ensure it stays within the community for those that need it.
All our meals – grown or rescued – are supplied to already-existing food relief agencies of various sizes. By tapping into existing infrastructure, we can keep costs down and do more.
That said, while this is a surprisingly simple recipe to alleviate hunger across Australia – it takes a village and we’re always on the ask for help.
So, how can people help?
We have an incredible army of volunteers, and we’re always looking for more hands, minds and skills to grow our footprint. We love land, and anyone willing to grow for us on their own.
Support of our provision of services that generate proceeds for our not-for-profit are incredible (and mutually-beneficial) ways to create change. This might include a subscription to our monthly food boxes, or a simple packet of seasonal seeds
And of course, the support of corporate partners who can bring bigger networks, financial aid and awareness to the cause is key to keeping us in operation, and helping to grow new innovations from a planted seed into a full-swing initiative.
The main fact to consider is that there are 3.6 million Australians seeking food relief each year, but that 60,000 of these are turned away each month because there isn’t yet the resources to go around.
It’s why our mission is to make sure that every time someone needs support accessing food, they can find it with ease and dignity.