This week on SBS Insight asks: who’s going hungry in Australia, and why?
Once or twice a week, Sunita and her husband go without a meal so their two children can have something to eat. Other times, they turn to Weet-Bix for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Sunita, who is a full time carer for her ill daughter, says the most difficult time is when the power bill arrives.
“It’s as good as someone pointing a gun at my head,” she tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie.
A growing number of Australians are going hungry. CEO of Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, Brianna Casey says 3.6 million Australians have been food insecure in the last 12 months – including one in five children.
And it’s not always the people you might think would be struggling to put food on the table.
Renee and Grant’s lives changed overnight when Grant had an accident at work. The pair suddenly found themselves struggling to afford food for their family of six, while trying to keep up with mortgage repayments and other bills. Even with the help of a community food program that provides low cost groceries, they both say they still skip meals each week so their children can eat.
“It didn’t even enter our heads something like this could happen,” Renee says, adding, “not in Australia, anyway.”
Aunty Lena, a member of the Stolen Generations, has three adult children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren living under her roof. With only her aged pension for income, she struggles to feed her large family after paying the rent and electricity, but she’s resolved to keeping her household together.
“They’re my family, they’ve got no one else,” she tells Insight.
She mostly chooses the food her grandchildren want to eat from a local food relief program, and says meat is a luxury.
Charities and food rescue organisations have stepped up to help provide nutritious food and hot meals for those who might otherwise go without. And thousands of schools across the country are now running breakfast clubs to make sure their students have a healthy meal to start the school day.
But Brianna admits food relief programs are “a bandaid over a gaping wound,” and that while sourcing food for those in need is crucial, it doesn’t get to the root cause of food insecurity.
8:30pm Tuesday on SBS.