Help is needed to feed those less fortunate
The human faces of inflation
Opinion piece By Brianna Casey, Foodbank Australia CEO
It’s been hard to miss the barrage of commentary in recent weeks about cost of living pressures, interest rates and inflation rates. Make no mistake – these are important issues and with the federal election only days away, it’s not surprising to see these issues being politicised.
What’s perhaps not so easy to see is the human faces behind this debate. Behind every CPI headline is a family trying to find or hang on to a rental property; a pensioner shivering in social housing because they can’t afford heating; or a single parent skipping meals because there isn’t enough food to feed themselves as well as their children.
These aren’t hypothetical or isolated scenarios. Right now, more than one million people a month are receiving food relief through the Foodbank network across Australia, and that’s just the people who reach out for help. One in three people struggling to meet their food needs are new to the situation, which is perhaps unsurprising given the wide-ranging impacts of COVID, but for many, things were tough before lockdowns, and they’re even tougher now.
The Foodbank Hunger Map*, a new analysis of food insecurity nationally, shows that whilst the direct impact of the pandemic is starting to recede, we are not going back to pre-COVID-19 levels of food security. In fact, there are only 12 local government areas nationally that are not worse off than they were back in 2019. The average monthly demand for food relief is up 50 percent from 2019, due a combination of more people seeking food relief and people seeking it more often.
With inflation hitting 5.1% and the highest year-on-year food price inflation in more than a decade, there has never been a more important time to ensure food relief is available to every person who needs it. We have joined forces with OzHarvest and SecondBite to ensure those experiencing hardship are not forgotten in the lead-up to the Federal election and beyond, calling on all sides of politics to deliver improved food relief funding and programs, as well as tax incentives to help reduce food waste and feed more people.
This election presents an opportunity for our political leaders to acknowledge that Australia does in fact have a hunger problem and that demands on the food relief sector will only continue to grow, particularly given increased cost of living pressures and the frequency and severity of natural disasters.
Australia’s food relief sector is a vital frontline safeguard in times of individual and community adversity, whether prompted by disasters such as the recent East Coast floods, Black Summer bushfires, COVID-19 or poverty and inequality. We are committed to wrapping our arms around the community for as long as they need us, but we can’t do it on our own.
*The Foodbank Hunger Map is a geographical representation of the prevalence and depth of food insecurity in Australia and how current food relief services meet the demand for food relief.