Hunger and malnutrition are more often associated with developing countries than Australia, but every year two million Australians turn to charities for food.
In the past, Melbourne charities have provided food parcels and served meals to the homeless, isolated elderly people, the unemployed, asylum seekers and people struggling with mental health issues. And they still do.
However, there is a growing number of “working poor” people and families turning to their local charities for help. They have one or more jobs and a roof over their head. They are just struggling to stretch their household budget far enough to afford enough food – and nutritious food.
In Melbourne’s north, Abbey sometimes has no money for food for herself or her teenage daughter after paying rent and other bills. “Food comes about third on the list because it’s no use if you don’t have a roof over your head and gas to cook with,” she said. Countrywide Community Missions Victoria is her saviour, providing bread, rice, meat, fruit and vegetables when her wallet is empty.
In Victoria, at least 500 charities provide food relief to men, women and children in their communities. Two years ago, 100 of these groups were interviewed. In total, they reported providing 31,000kg of food to people in need of a helping hand each week. While this is a lot of food, they also said they needed to distribute an additional 16,000kg a week to meet the needs of everyone turning up on their door steps.
Feed Melbourne is a campaign by Victorian food charity FareShare, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Leader Community Newspapers to raise money for these local groups so no one on our community goes without a healthy meal.