Food Insecurity in Australia
Most of us are familiar with the concept that fuel generates energy – a power plant needs coal or natural gas to generate electricity and vehicles need fuel to power the engine. In a similar fashion, our bodies need energy to perform everyday tasks like getting ready in the morning and driving to work. A well-balanced diet is essential then to give our body the full range of nutrients it needs to function properly.
Unfortunately, foods that are vital to our health are not always easily accessible. Food insecurity is often thought of as problems faced by people in third world countries. But that’s not the case at all. Even in wealthy nations including Australia, there are portions of the population that struggle to access food on a daily or weekly basis.
For this article we’ll be turning our attention to these individuals, the effects of food insecurity on children, and how you can help.
What is Food Insecurity?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines food security as a situation “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Those who are food secure are able to meet their daily nutritional needs. In contrast, food insecurity is defined as when access to food is limited.
Lack of financial resources is widely cited as one of the most common causes of food insecurity but other groups that are also susceptible include:
Culturally diverse groups including refugees
People with no access to transportation
People who are disabled or elderly
Heavy drug or alcohol users
The Foodbank Hunger Report estimates that more than 4 million Australians or about 18% of the population have experienced some degree of food insecurity in the past 12 months. Left with few options, many choose to either reduce their portion sizes, eat less healthy foods, or even skip meals altogether.
Effects of Food Insecurity on Children
Food insecurity is an issue that affects all ages. Children are particularly vulnerable. The Foodbank Australia reports that 22% or more than one in five children live in households that are food insecure. Two prominent causes that led parents unable to afford enough food were an unexpected large expense and housing payments.
Children are at a crucial stage in their lives where they need adequate nutrients for their bodies to fully develop. Research has shown that food insecurity has harmful effects on not only health but also educational outcomes. Children who are food insecure may struggle to concentrate at school due to lack of energy which leads to performing worse on academic tests and other coursework.
How You Can Help
At Cereal For Coffee, we believe that no child should ever go hungry. That’s why we’re on a mission to supply children at local schools and breakfast clubs with a nutritious breakfast, so they can start their day off strong and do their best. We’re on our way to feeding on average 1,100 children a week but we also need your help. With your donation we can continue our efforts of feeding as many children as we can.