According to the findings of Foodbank’s annual hunger report, 3.7 million families across Australia have been affected by food insecurity over the course of the past year. This number represents an increase of nearly 350,000 over the previous year.
More than 2.3 million of those homes were “severely food insecure,” which means that the members of those households were purposefully going hungry, decreasing the amount of food they consumed, missing meals, or going entire days without eating.
According to the findings of the report, which were derived from a survey of 4,342 people that was carried out in the month of July, as compared to the year 2022, almost 383,000 additional homes struggled to put food on the table.
The rising cost of living was the most significant factor contributing to food insecurity, with 77% of households citing it as the primary reason, which is an increase from 64% in 2022. This was followed by low-income jobs and inadequate assistance payments, both of which were cited as contributory factors by 42 percent of respondents.
More over sixty percent (60%) of all food insecure households had at least one member working for compensation.
Because Michael Coe was having recurrent seizures, he was fired from his work in December of last year, and as a result, his wife took over as the primary breadwinner for the family, which included three children ages nine, seven, and four years old. The income from his wife’s part-time job, in addition to the disability pension that Coe received, was not sufficient to meet the needs of their rapidly expanding family.
The family pays $450 per week to rent a property in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, which has three bedrooms. He is concerned about having to rent for the rest of his life and wants to provide housing stability for his children, but he is aware that this will be difficult for them given their circumstances.
“The ability to get a home is so difficult when the cost of living and rent is so high,” he added. “It’s so difficult to get a home when it costs so much to live.”
“Therefore, either the amount that people receive in rent assistance needs to be increased so that they can save enough… Make it more difficult for people to buy five or six houses if they are investing in real estate; alternatively, if people are buying investment properties. I believe that could be of some assistance.”
According to Brianna Casey, the Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank Australia, the nation is “in the midst of a food security crisis.”
She stated that 77% of people who are suffering food insecurity are doing so for the very first time. “What we are seeing now is that 77% of those experiencing food insecurity, they are experiencing it for the very first time,” she remarked.
“They skew towards being younger, they skew towards having a middle class to high income, and they skew towards being employed.”
She reported that the number of households that were experiencing chronic food insecurity remained unchanged at approximately 750,000.
However, people’s shopping habits were shifting, as evidenced by the fact that 48 percent of respondents reported making fewer purchases of fresh produce and protein, a trend that may have knock-on consequences for their health.
Casey predicted that by the end of the year 2023, half of the population of Australia would have experienced some kind of difficulty in satisfying their dietary requirements if the current trend maintained.
“What we’re seeing now is that people need at least one and a half jobs, if not two full-time jobs or equivalents, in order to keep up with their bills, which previously could have been taken care of by a single job”.