Australia

Why are millions of Australians going hungry?

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It's not always the people you might think who are struggling to put food on the table.

Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation has revealed 3.6 million Australians - including one in five children - have been 'food insecure' in the last 12 months. 

Brianna Casey, CEO of Foodbank, admits food relief programs are only "a band-aid over a gaping wound". 

Ms Casey says while sourcing food for those in need is crucial, it doesn’t get to the root cause of food insecurity.

Sunita
Sunita shares her story with Insight.
Insight

Sunita is one of those struggling to put food on the table. She features in this week's Insight's episode, Hunger, on SBS. 

Once or twice a week, she and her husband go without a meal so their two children can have something to eat. Other times, they turn to Weet-Bix for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sunita, who is a full-time carer for her ill daughter, says the most difficult time is when the power bill arrives.

“It’s as good as someone pointing a gun at my head,” she told Insight's Jenny Brockie.

Renee
Renee.
Insight

Another couple, Renee and Grant, said their lives changed overnight when Grant had an accident at work.

The pair suddenly found themselves struggling to afford food for their family of six while trying to keep up with mortgage repayments and other bills. Even with the help of a community food program that provides low-cost groceries, they both say they still skip meals each week so their children can eat.

“It didn’t even enter our heads something like this could happen,” Renee said, “not in Australia, anyway.”

Aunty Lena
Aunty Lena.
Insight

Charities and food rescue organisations have stepped up to help provide nutritious food and hot meals for those who might otherwise go without. And thousands of schools across the country are now running breakfast clubs to make sure their students have a healthy meal to start the school day.

Aunty Lena, a member of the Stolen Generations, has three adult children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren living under her roof. With only her aged pension for income, she struggles to feed her large family after paying the rent and electricity, but she’s resolved to keeping her household together.

She mostly chooses the food her grandchildren want to eat from a local food relief program and says meat is a luxury.

“They’re my family, they’ve got no one else,” she said. 

Watch the full Insight episode - Hunger - on Tuesday 10 July at 8.30pm on SBS. The program will be available after broadcast via SBS On Demand.

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