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The perfect storm sweeping food from our tables

The number of people needing help with food essentials is soaring, reports Fletcher Fraser

A combination of domestic and global crises -- floods, supply issues and broader inflation -- are driving unprecedented demand for help with basic essentials like food, frontline organisations say.

Jennifer Kirkaldy, the Salvation Army's general manager of policy and advocacy, said one one in three people were identifying rising prices as the reason they need support, while Foodbank Victoria is now helping to feed tens of thousands of people every day. “Food affordability is a huge issue. We have a number of people, who identified they didn’t believe they would be able to afford to feed their family,” Ms Kirkaldy said. “The shame and the stigma they felt, and just the embarrassment, about not being able to afford groceries.” Matt Tilley, the chief communications officer for Foodbank Victoria, said there were a number of issues combining to worsen the cost of living crisis.

FoodBank Victoria is facing extraordinary demand for assistance. (Photo: Supplied)

“We've had floods, we've had supply chain issues. We've had interest rates going up where people are now coming off their fixed-term loan mortgages in the last two months,” Mr Tilley said. “We continue to feed 100,000 people every two days through the charities we support. “We've had the cost of living crisis, which has made us busier than any of those things I've just mentioned.” Food prices in Australia have increased due to the war in Ukraine, supply chain issues, inflation and rising interest rates. Australia’s National Food Supply Chain Alliance predicts a further 8 per cent increase in local food prices over 2023. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, food prices rose between 9 and 10 per cent in 2022.

The Foodbank Hunger Report 2022 found over 2 million households in Australia experienced severe food insecurity in the previous 12 months.

The report also found 306,000 households were receiving food relief, and that 64 per cent of households cited the increased cost of living as the reason they could not meet their household food needs. Half of respondents said they were cutting back the number of groceries purchased.


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