Foodbank braces for increase in hunger
Australian food relief organisation Foodbank has reported that while demand for food relief is up, it’s believed the charity has not yet seen “peak hunger” in the COVID-19 crisis.
The organisation has published a special edition of its annual Foodbank Hunger Report, which revealed that, while government assistance such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper have provided much needed temporary relief, charities and food insecure Australians alike have an extreme sense of unease about the future as these measures are rolled back. More than one in three food insecure Aussies receiving benefits don’t know how they’ll cope.
Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey says this year’s report emphasises that COVID-19 is having a profound effect on the food security of Australians.
“The report highlights that, while need for food relief has become somewhat erratic and unpredictable, charities are reporting that overall demand is up by 47 percent and many of those now experiencing food insecurity have never before needed support,” she says.
The number of people seeking assistance at least once a week has more than doubled since last year. And those who were already struggling before the coronavirus hit have been impacted more quickly and seriously than others.
“In addition, we’re seeing new groups reach out for help, in particular casual workers and international students,” Casey says. “These individuals tend to be younger, so it’s not surprising our report shows it’s Australia’s youth who are bearing the brunt of COVID-19.”
Young Australians are going without food more often than any other age group, with 65 percent of food insecure Gen Z (aged 18-25) going hungry at least once a week compared to 25 percent of food insecure Baby Boomers (56-74) and 25 percent of those aged 75+.
Key statistics from the Foodbank Hunger Report
• Charities are seeing overall demand up by an average of 47%.
• The proportion of food insecure Australians seeking food relief at least once a week has more than doubled since last year, from 15% to 31%.
• When it comes to COVID-19 causing hunger, young Australians are being hit the hardest – 65% of food insecure 18 to 25-year-olds are going without food at least once a week.
• More than a quarter of those experiencing food insecurity never faced it before COVID.
• Charities are seeing significant numbers of casual employees and international students.
• 43% of food insecure Australians are going a whole day a week without eating.
• 61% of food secure Australians have accessed food relief since COVID-19 hit but the rest have not reached out for help. The most common barriers are embarrassment (33%), shame (30%) or thinking there might be others in greater need (33%).
While government assistance like JobKeeper and JobSeeker have provided vital temporary relief for many, 62% say they are not receiving the assistance they need:
• 37% say they need more than they’re getting;
• 21% are ineligible for any additional support; and
• 4% have found it too difficult to apply.
Post-COVID-19, almost 35% of food secure Australians don’t know how they’ll cope or expect they won’t cope at all when the additional government support is withdrawn.
Help Foodbank feed the growing number of hungry Australians, and make a cash donation here. Foodbank also accepts food donations from farmers, manufacturers and retailers. To find out what you can donate and how, click here.