More families miss out as South Australians choose to “heat or eat”

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October 26, 2017

More South Australians than ever are seeking help to put food on the table every month, according to the latest Foodbank SA Hunger Report.

Each month, a total of 102, 718 people are provided with meals – an increase of 21% on last year’s monthly total of 84,847 – a third of them children. And it is a demand the agency can not keep up with.

Foodbank SA chief executive Greg Pattinson said the surge in demand was due to several factors, but believes high electricity prices in SA meant families had to make the difficult choice to “either heat or eat” this winter.

“We have heard it from so many people. The power bills come in and they decide – do we feed the kids today or do we not? There are plenty of stories of people who come in wanting food because they haven’t eaten for three or four days because they just can’t keep up with the bills,” he said.

The national Hunger Report, released today, also highlights several new statistics, including:

  • 3.6 million Australians (15%) have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months, with three in five of these individuals experiencing food insecurity at least once a month.
  • Almost half of food insecure Australians (48%) are employed in some way, whether full-time, part-time or casually.
  • Almost half (46%) of parents have skipped a meal so that their children can eat in instances where they have been unable to afford food.
  • People struggling with unemployment (64%), homelessness (39%) and substance abuse (19%), and individuals and families living on a low income (81%) are the most common groups seeking assistance.
  • Two in five food insecure Australians (41%) have not paid bills in order to have enough money to buy food.
  • More than half of food insecure Australians feel depressed (53%) and stressed (52%) in circumstances where they cannot afford to buy food.

Mr Pattinson said the challenge for Foodbank SA was to now meet the growing demand, primarily by growing the organisation’s distribution network. “We know that we are missing people within the community simply because we can’t meet the growing need. We are working hard with the State Government, welfare agencies and our providers to look at growing our services across the state, such as more community food hubs, more programs in schools and a bigger presence in regional areas,” he said.

“Food is an important tool for people in need to get themselves back on their feet, particularly young children who should be able to access fresh fruit and vegetables, and go to school feeling happy and healthy. We are determined to bridge this gap and ensure South Australians most in need can access food relief when they need it.”

To learn more about the Foodbank Hunger Report.

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