More than one fifth of Australian children have been forced to skip meals in the last year as their parents struggle to put food on the table, according to Australia’s biggest hunger relief organisation.
Foodbank Australia has released its first ever research report which aims to lift the lid on children facing food insecurity nationwide.
Released on Sunday, Foodbank’s Rumbling Tummies report was based on the responses from 1000 Australian parents with children under the age of 15 surveyed earlier this year.
While 15 per cent of Australian adults have experienced food insecurity in the last year, the figure increases to 22 per cent for children.
22 per cent of Australian children have been forced to skip meals in the last year becuase their parents have struggled to make ends meet in an era of rising living costs, according to Foodbank Australia’s Rumbling Tummies report
One in three parents living below the breadline say their children go hungry at least once a month, 18 per cent go to school without eating breakfast at least once a week, 15 per cent go to school without a packed lunch or money to buy lunch at the canteen while 11 per cent go to bed without dinner.
In other concerning statistics, 22 per cent of children go the whole day without eating any fresh food while nine per cent starve throughout the day without any food.
More than half of parents reported changes in their child’s emotions from being hungry, such as more outbursts or tantrums (24 per cent) and a drop in their child’s happiness (24 per cent) while one in five say their children become agitated and irritable.
Almost nine out of 10 parents in food insecure households have skipped a meal so their children can eat.
‘It is both heartbreaking and unacceptable to hear that children are going hungry anywhere in the world, let alone in Australia,’ Foodbank Australia chief executive Brianna Casey said.
‘As the cost of living continues to rise, parents are really feeling the strain of these financial pressures on their household budgets, forcing some to make impossible decisions for their families.’
About 3.6 million Australians face food insecurity due to the rising cost of living.
The biggest causes of food insecurity are an unexpected bill or expense (52 per cent) and rent/mortgage payments (38 cent cent), according to the Rumbling Tummies report.
Foodbank feeds 652,000 people a month but are forced to turn away another 65,000.
22 per cent of Australian children under the age of 15 go the whole day without eating any fresh food while nine per cent starve throughout the day without any food, according to the Foodbank report
‘As a community, we might be excused for not hearing one child’s stomach rumbling, but we simply cannot ignore the sound of thousands of children going hungry in Australia each day,’ Ms Casey said.
‘If we want all our children to thrive and succeed, we can’t let their hunger go unheard. Whether you are from corporate Australia, government, or someone who believes in a better Australia, we really do owe it to these children to ensure Foodbank can get more food to the most vulnerable in our community.’
More than half of parents surveyed reported changes in their child’s emotions from being hungry
On social media, Foodbank supporters called on the governments to do more to relieve the problem.
‘Our government send billions overseas to countries who are richer than us. They should spend the same amount helping the needy here in Australia! Charity begins at home,’ one woman posted on Facebook.
Another added: ‘It is a disgrace that we are in a first world country and people are having to skip meals, thank you Foodbank and Our Community Pantry at least they doing something not like the government to date they have done nothing except increase their wages and increase our taxes.’
‘As the cost of living continues to rise, parents are really feeling the strain of these financial pressures on their household budgets, forcing some to make impossible decisions for their families,’ Foodbank Australia chief executive Brianna Casey said
Foodbank Victoria chief executive Dave McNamara agreed.
‘As a community we need to say this isn’t right, we’re not going to stand for this, we need to change and fix it,’ he told the ABC.
‘We need to look housing affordability … utility costs, we need to look at private health care, we need to look at minimum wage: what’s not just a minimum wage, but a liveable wage.’
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon described the figures as ‘deeply disturbing and deeply shocking.’
‘I would absolutely have been guilty of underestimating the scale of the problem before this report,’ Dr Gannon told the Daily Telegraph.
‘It’s not only concerning about kids skipping meals but also that the quality of their nutrition is so poor. We know that our obesity crisis is driven by the fact that nutrient poor high fat, high sugar foods are unfortunately cheaper and more accessible. We need a whole of society approach to this.’
Nicole Lessio, acting executive director of The Parenthood told the publication: ‘The data out of Foodbank is a reminder that hunger isn’t just a third-world problem. It is happening right here in our backyard and on our watch. With cost of living rising and wages stagnating, it’s clear that something has to give.’
As Australia’s biggest hunger relief organisation, Foodbank feeds 652,000 people a month but are forced to turn away another 65,000