CHARITY provided meals have never been more crucial this Christmas as new statistics from FoodBank Australia reveal a rise in food insecurity across the nation.
Published in October 2021, the Foodbank Hunger Report found one in six Australian adults are severely food insecure and 1.2 million children are living in food-insecure households.
Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank Australia, Brianna Casey, believes the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted an issue that has “too long flown under society’s radar.”
With Christmas around the corner, philanthropic organisations have prepared short-term resolutions for the growing number of hungry Australians.
National Christian charity, Mission Australia, is undertaking its 46th year of Christmas Lunch in the Park which has fed over 67,000 Australians across the years.
State Director in WA, Jo Sadler, promises a Christmas meal alongside other services.
“We provide care packs which have personal items and non-perishable foods to help in the days after Christmas when many services are closed,” she said.
“There are opportunities to connect with people… and haircuts, showers and clothing available for those who need it.”
“We want to create a safe space where people can have a tasty meal, enjoy some entertainment and have someone to talk to on Christmas day.”
Ms Gianna Vogels, an 81-year-old Mission Australia volunteer has been a table host at the lunch for 18 years.
“There are lots of lonely and marginalised people at Christmas time, people who have fallen on hard times,” Ms Vogels said.
“Volunteering is a great opportunity to share some Christmas joy for people who might otherwise have nowhere to go.”
The lunch will take place at Wellington Square in Perth.
More than one in three Australian’s (38 per cent) who were food insecure during 2020, had never experienced such uncertainty prior to the pandemic.
“The issue of food insecurity has never been more prominent than it is now,” said Ms Casey.
“Food relief is not only being sought out by those who are homeless and unemployed but working families, single parents, school leavers, First Nations people and many more…”
“One positive we can draw from this situation (COVID-19 pandemic) is that food insecurity is no longer hidden,” she said.
Alongside Mission Australia, other big names in the charity sector are providing food relief over Christmas, including the Salvation Army and Sacred Heart Mission.
Ms Casey urged vulnerable people to make use of these resources.
“The fallout of the pandemic has driven home to all of us how easy it is for people to become vulnerable,” she said.
Tia Haralabakos is a Media Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.