Australia has a hunger problem: 1 in 4 women have experienced food insecurity in the past year

Australia has a hunger problem: 1 in 4 women have experienced food insecurity in the past year

Despite Australia being a developed and wealthy nation, hunger and food insecurity are a growing reality. Over the past year, 1 in 5 Australians have been in a situation where they have run out of food and been unable to buy more.

Women are 50% more likely to experience food insecurity than men.  More than 1 in 4 women have experienced food insecurity in some form in the past year.

The 2019 Foodbank Hunger Report, released on Sunday, has made clear the shocking reality of food insecurity in Australia and how it is more likely to impact women on an emotional level.

According to the report, women experiencing food insecurity are more likely to feel stressed and anxious than men. Mothers are twice as likely as fathers to feel like a bad or failed parent when there is not enough food in the house.

Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey says the situation is getting worse and the impact is skewed towards the most vulnerable women in the community.

“We hear so many heart-breaking stories, from mothers skipping meals so their children can eat, to elderly women left on their own feeling isolated because they can’t offer their neighbours or friends so much as a cup of tea or coffee,” she said.

Events that make women susceptible to food stress are also different to those for men.

Women are significantly more likely at some time in their lives to have experienced domestic violence or financial abuse. In fact, 53% of women surveyed who had faced food insecurity said they had experienced domestic violence. 49% had raised children on their own for an extended period of time.

Half of women experiencing food insecurity or hunger have also been unable to purchase other necessities like feminine hygiene products.

“In spite of the fact that Foodbank is now providing food relief for more than 810,000 people every month, what the report shows is that our charity network is still not meeting demand,” says Casey.

“There has been a 22% increase in the number of individuals accessing food relief in the past year and only 37% of charities believe they are meeting the full demand in their communities.”

Casey is calling on the government to act on the problem that is clearly not going away.

“What is required is a long-term, whole-of-government plan to tackle this crisis head on. We are calling for a commitment to introduce a National Food Security Strategy to ensure we achieve zero hunger in this country by 2030,” she said.

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