AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST HUNGER RELIEF ORGANISATION, FOODBANK, WARNS THAT THE FEDERAL BUDGET HANDED DOWN LAST NIGHT WILL LEAVE VULNERABLE AUSTRALIANS NEEDING IMMEDIATE RELIEF SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS.
“Foodbank’s latest research revealed that 3.6 million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months including a shocking 1 in 5 children,” Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey said today.
“Whilst there are welcome measures that may benefit vulnerable groups, including low income earners, older Australians and the unemployed in rural and regional areas, there does not appear to be any additional support towards urgent relief for people in crisis – those who are unable to feed themselves and their families” Ms Casey explained.
Foodbank sources and distributes essential food and groceries to support a network of more than 2,400 charities and 1,750 schools helping individuals and families struggling to put food on the table. The latest Foodbank Hunger Report confirmed that their charity network is struggling to meet the rising need for food relief in the community, reporting a 10% increase in the number of individuals seeking help in the last 12 months.
Having mounted a compelling case for the Federal Government to invest more meaningfully in Foodbank’s sourcing and distribution of key staples food items, it seems Foodbank’s requirements for immediate assistance have not been addressed.
Furthermore, Foodbank has seen no response to requests for assistance in offsetting the transport costs associated with sourcing and distributing more than 67 million meals a year.
“Foodbank is currently doing the heavy lifting when it comes to food relief in this country,” Ms Casey said. “We are an incredibly lean, efficient and effective organisation, but there is only so much we can do on our own. It is time the Federal Government invested the funds necessary to ensure food security for all Australians. This includes providing the immediate food relief required by vulnerable Australians to help get them back on their feet and to prevent them falling into greater need.”
“Food insecurity is the economic canary in the coal mine, with spikes in demand for food relief signalling problems for vulnerable Australians in relation to unemployment, underemployment and balancing household budgets,” Ms Casey continued. “Foodbank currently provides food relief for 652,000 Australians every single month, and if that’s not telling the Federal Government and the Australian public that we’re dealing with a hunger crisis right now, nothing will.”
“We have an opportunity to tackle food insecurity head on through sensible investment in food relief,” Ms Casey said. ““But unless there’s a hidden glimmer of hope buried deep within the Budget papers, it appears our pleas for immediate assistance have gone unheard.”
For many facing food insecurity, it’s a short-term predicament triggered by something as simple as missing a shift at work or the family being hit with an unexpected medical incident. When families are living pay cheque to pay cheque, it doesn’t take much for the household budget to be stretched beyond capacity, and for food to suddenly become a discretionary item.
“At a time when demand for food relief has never been greater, vulnerable Australians need immediate support, and we are not convinced that the Budget delivers this, particularly for low-income earners,” Ms Casey concluded.
Foodbank will be seeking urgent discussions with the Federal Government to identify how the immediate food relief needs of struggling Australians can be met given the constraints of the 2018-2019 budget.
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