Did you know that food insecurity and hunger have reached concerning levels over the past year, according to a new report from Foodbank Australia? Melinda McInturff, a community resilience coordinator who started the Yeronga community centre with volunteers after the 2011 floods, said that the daily need for food aid they are seeing now surpasses anything in the past decade.
Community Plus+ Queensland, a community development organisation that works across Annerley, Yeronga, and West End, revealed demand for food relief is the highest they have seen in over 12 years.
Like Community Plus+ Queensland, OzHarvest also observed the unprecedented demand last year. Over 180 charities in Queensland are currently waitlisted for OzHarvest’s service, which collects unused fresh food from businesses and delivers it to charities.
The 2023 Hunger Report estimates that around 3.7 million households battled food insecurity to some degree in the past 12 months.
The rising cost of living was cited as the predominant reason, with 79 percent of respondents noting high living expenses and 42 percent citing reduced income or government benefits.
With many households stretched financially, food rescue organisations and charities revealed demand is unprecedented.
To manage, people have cut spending on food and groceries. Some have also reduced housing and finance costs over the past 12 months.
Many cited the rising cost of living as tipping them over the edge financially. One local resident said a combination of factors like pensions, taking in family members and using credit cards to pay increased expenses has depleted their savings. Another resident coped by not eating so their children could.
However, ensuring food access during these difficult economic times will require a coordinated response between charities, government services, and the wider community to make sure no one falls through the gaps. With compassion and collective effort, Australia can address this hunger crisis driven by inflation.
With rising costs straining household budgets across Australia, the steep increase in food insecurity highlights the real-world impacts of the cost of living crisis. As more employed Australians are forced to turn to charities to feed their families, organisations like OzHarvest and Community Plus are working overtime but still struggling to meet demand.