Foodbank Nutrition Statement

May 2019

Foodbank’s commitment to improving food security amongst Australia’s vulnerable includes working toward the goal of ensuring that the food provided is of good quality, in line with the Australian Guide to Health Eating, consistent, convenient and culturally appropriate.

As Australia’s largest food relief organisation, Foodbank’s first priority is to provide food to those who need it. Traditionally, we accept all edible food offered to us by food companies and the general public in order to help as many people as we can.

Nevertheless, it is not sufficient to merely provide kilojoules to alleviate food insecurity.  More than 18% of Australians experienced food insecurity in the last year (1). They range from people who have anxiety about accessing food or unable to afford food of an appropriate quality, diversity or nutritional standard right through to those going without food all together. Food insecurity is not just about the plate being empty but also about what’s on the plate. With a growing trend in the number of individuals seeking food relief from charities, (1, 2) the role of providing nutrient rich foods to help reduce negative health impacts of food insecurity is becoming more significant in Foodbanks’ services.

According to the United Nations “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilisation and stability”.

Nutrition is important to everyone but eating well is especially challenging for those who are disadvantaged. People experiencing food insecurity have less than optimal eating patterns (3), often lacking the money (4), nutritional knowledge and other resources to access healthy food (5) including fresh fruit and vegetables (6).  Food insecure adults have an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses (7) including type 2 diabetes (8), kidney disease (9), cardiovascular diseases (10) and mental health issues (3), while food insecurity in children is associated with poor general health (11), developmental and academic outcomes (12).

This commitment is reflected in Foodbanks’ proactive sourcing of fresh foods including fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat, to complement the pantry foods which have been our mainstay.

Foodbank also collaborates with suppliers, manufacturers and transporters in a world-leading program to source daily essentials that don’t come in sufficient quantities via rescue channels. This is to enable reliable availability of key staple foods that provide variety, convenience, nutritional value and cultural appropriateness. In particular, to secure food for families, people with special health and dietary needs and school children via school breakfast programs.

Feedback collected from the charities we supply, as well as our teams around the country, allows us to determine the demand and range of foods required to assist with our sourcing.

 

References

  1. McCrindle (2018). The Foodbank Hunger Report. https://www.foodbank.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-Foodbank-Hunger-Report.pdf
  2. McKay, F. H., Haines, B. C., & Dunn, M. (2019). Measuring and Understanding Food Insecurity in Australia: A Systematic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(3), 476. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16030476
  3. Davison, K. M., Gondara, L., & Kaplan, B. J. (2017). Food Insecurity, Poor Diet Quality, and Suboptimal Intakes of Folate and Iron Are Independently Associated with Perceived Mental Health in Canadian Adults. Nutrients, 9(3). doi: 10.3390/nu9030274
  4. Ramsey, R., Giskes, K., Turrell, G., & Gallegos, D. (2012). Food insecurity among adults residing in disadvantaged urban areas: potential health and dietary consequences. Public Health Nutrition, 15(2), 227-237. doi: 10.1017/s1368980011001996
  5. Burns C. (2004). A Review of the Literature Describing the Link Between Poverty, Food Insecurity and Obesity with Specific Reference to Australia. Melbourne (AUST): Deakin University Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research.
  6. Morales, M. E., & Berkowitz, S. A. (2016). The Relationship between Food Insecurity, Dietary Patterns, and Obesity. Current nutrition reports, 5(1), 54-60. doi: 10.1007/s13668-016-0153-y
  7. Christian A. Gregory, Alisha Coleman-Jensen. (2017). Food Insecurity, Chronic Disease, and Health Among Working-Age Adults, ERR-235, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/84467/err-235.pdf?v=0
  8. Laraia, B. A. (2013). Food insecurity and chronic disease. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(2), 203-212. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003277
  9. Crews, D. C., Kuczmarski, M. F., Grubbs, V., Hedgeman, E., Shahinian, V. B., Evans, M. K., . . . Prevention Chronic Kidney Disease Surveillance, T. (2014). Effect of food insecurity on chronic kidney disease in lower-income Americans. American journal of nephrology, 39(1), 27-35. doi: 10.1159/000357595
  10. Seligman, H. K., Laraia, B. A., & Kushel, M. B. (2009). Food Insecurity Is Associated with Chronic Disease among Low-Income NHANES Participants. The Journal of Nutrition, 140(2), 304-310. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.112573
  11. Kirkpatrick, S. I., McIntyre, L., & Potestio, M. L. (2010). Child Hunger and Long-term Adverse Consequences for HealthChild Hunger and Long-Term Adverse Health Consequences. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 164(8), 754-762. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.117
  12. Jyoti, D. F., Frongillo, E. A., & Jones, S. J. (2005). Food Insecurity Affects School Children’s Academic Performance, Weight Gain, and Social Skills. The Journal of Nutrition, 135(12), 2831-2839. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.12.2831