Food Bank Australia have released their annual Hunger Report and it’s findings, particularly in regards to rural and regional Australians, is shocking.
Food Bank is the largest hunger relief non-for-profit organisation in Australia, providing hunger relief to more than 710,000 Australians each month.
Food Bank partners with the entire Australian food and grocery, industry including working with farmers, wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers to source fresh and manufactured foods as well as personal and household care items for those in need.
About the report
The Food Bank 2018 Hunger Report found that Australians living in the country are 33% more likely to have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months than those living in cities.
Also, more than 1.5 million Australians in regional and remote areas have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.
What is food insecurity: according to Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, it is a situation that exisys when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.
The most common reason regional and remote Australians go hungry is because they are living on a low income (53% compared to 37% in capital and major cities).
“It is shaming walking into a supermarket looking at prices and realising you don’t have enough money to pay for items you need,” a 55-64 year old man from regional NSW said.
Living in the country often means that shops are further away, with one in six (17%) suggesting they cannot easily access food shops from where they live compared to one in 10 (10%) in the city.
Not only are Australians in the country more likely to experience food insecurity, but they are also more likely to have difficulty coping with these circumstances. Almost two in three Australians in regional and remote areas (65%) feel stressed as a result of not having enough food, compared to just over half (54%) of those living in major and capital cities.
“We made a decision to basically live on cereal and bread, so we had our food money for drought-stricken farm animals,” an ACT farmer said.
How Food bank helps
Being unable to afford enough food can have many damaging effects on an individual’s quality of life. Lack of food can often result in feeling tired or lethargic (52%), a decline in mental health 44%) and a loss of confidence (38%).
Many Australians struggling with food insecurity say they feel stressed (57%), depressed (52%) and sad (47%) when they are unable to buy enough food. These emotions are the result of individuals feeling frustrated with their situation, combined with a sense of shame at being unable to meet a basic need for themselves or their household.
The top three benefits of food relief, according to Australians who have received assistance in the last year, include feeling less hungry (49%), being better able to focus/concentrate (32%) and being able to afford small luxuries such as toiletries, tea or coffee (30%).
These individuals felt relieved (46%), less stressed (35%) and more hopeful (31%) as a direct result of receiving assistance from a charity. More than four out of five recipients of food relief (83%) say the benefits of food assistance made a difference in their lives for a week or more.