New Figures Show Just How Many Australians Can't Afford Regular Meals

It's not something that's expected in the so-called lucky country, yet more than four million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.

Foodbank's 2018 Hunger report has found that nearly one in five Aussies are struggling to put food on the table.

More than three quarters of these people are regularly eating less than they need, because they lack the money or resources to obtain food -- this predicament is described as 'food insecurity'.

"I think there are a lot of Australians who think this is something that happens in third world countries or in the developing world but it is happening here, and it's getting worse," Foodbank's CEO Brianna Casey told ten daily. 

The situation is even more dire in rural Australia  -- and the outlook isn't any better  -- given the full effects of the drought are yet to be felt.

My Name Is Tjae And I Go To School Hungry

"Country dwellers are a third (33 percent) more likely to be hungry than their city counterparts. This is even before the full effects of the current drought are factored in,” Casey said.

Retired farmer, now pensioner Christopher Dunne regularly uses a 'community pantry', which is run by a charity in regional NSW.

"It is a pretty tough life if you haven't made provisions earlier and me being 80 now we didn't make provisions when we were younger and worked on the land," Dunn told ten daily.

The food available in community pantries has been donated or rescued from supermarkets and other businesses, often past its best before date, and includes produce that is disfigured or less than perfect.

Dunn is one of 1.5 million Australians in regional and remote areas that have experienced food insecurity in the past year.

"It's still a struggle to meet today's [food] prices with what they are," he said.

Even though Aussies living in regional and remote areas are worse off by far, they are more likely to stay tight-lipped about it.

The report found city-dwellers feel more comfortable telling a friend or asking for help if they can't afford to buy food.

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Foodbank provides 710,000 Australians with food assistance every month.

The majority of people that access this support are in some type of employment -- although a low income is the most common reason why Australians are unable to afford food.

Over the past decade, the amount of food rescued by Foodbank has increased rapidly. In the last financial year. nearly 41 million kilograms of food were collected, but it's still not enough to meet the growing demand.

“Half of all our charity agencies report an increase in the number of people seeking much needed food assistance, and only 36 percent of charities say they are meeting the full needs of people they assist," Casey said.

"We are doing our very best to address this problem, but we need support from our government and our community to help these vulnerable Aussies in need,” she said.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au 

Featured Image: Getty Images 

If you want to help rescue , donate or deliver food to those battling food insecurity contact food relief agencies Foodbank or OzHarvest.