As the expense of living and other pressures push more people into food insecurity, millions of Australians miss meals or consume poor-quality food, necessitating an urgent call to action.
Recent floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many people without jobs and government assistance, are two factors that contribute to the problem, which is generally invisible.
The Australian Household Food Security Data Coalition, which was founded by a group of 18 academics, reiterated calls for the government to collect more data on the subject on Wednesday.
According to studies published last year by the hunger relief organization Food Bank, more than two million, or one in five Australian homes, are dealing with extreme food insecurity.
According to a 4024-person online survey, renters, unemployed individuals, and persons with low incomes are particularly at danger, along with young people and families with only one parent.
The report is the primary source of information on Australia’s food insecurity.
The Food Bank report, according to coalition member and urban geographer Miriam Williams, senior lecturer at Macquarie University, was more thorough than earlier studies but fell short of providing a whole picture.
Government surveys are conducted annually to track food insecurity in Canada, the US, and the UK, but not in Australia.
In Australia, we depend on the Food Bank, which does a fantastic job of filling in the gaps, but without data collection, Dr. Williams added, we won’t have a whole picture of food insecurity in Australia.
Australia is one of the nations with the highest levels of food security on paper because 72% of its agricultural output is exported.
According to Dr. Williams, in reality, food insecurity results in families not having enough money to pay their regular shopping costs, which forces parents to cut back on meals occasionally, buy cheap foods with worse nutrition, like fast food, or skip meals altogether.
Ten questions about food insecurity will be included in an upcoming Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on physical activity and health, but the findings won’t be available until late 2024 or early 2025 and won’t assess the impact on children.
In order to guarantee that everyone in Australia has access to nutritious, reasonably priced, sustainably produced, and culturally acceptable food, Dr. Williams emphasized that we need a comprehensive food strategy.