Food insecurity on agenda, report recommends fresher food for those going hungry

The need for emergency food relief in Ballarat is on the rise, with food insecurity impacting more members of the community than ever before.

A new Ballarat Community Health report Impacts of Food Insecurity in Ballarat reveals the shocking reality of those going hungry.

Of the 100 charitable food relief clients surveyed for the report, 76 per cent said they did not have enough money in their budget to buy necessary foods.

The data shows 46 per cent spend less than $50 a week on food.

The challenges we face in our community are definitely real and are bigger than most people would imagine.

Matt Jenkins, Ballarat Foundation chief executive

Ballarat health and community workers acknowledged food insecurity as a ‘complex’ and ‘multifaceted’ issue at the report’s launch on Friday, one which would require coordinated short term and long term solutions.

The report recommends the Food Access Network, a collaboration of Ballarat organisations, provide more fresh fruits and vegetables and cooked healthy meals.

 FRESH FOOD: Ballarat Community Health health promotion officer Melissa Farrington picks vegetables fresh from the centre’s garden. Volunteers cook for food relief programs at the centre each week. Picture: Kate Healy

Surveyed clients consume only one serve of vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat on average over a 24 hour period.

More than 70 per cent believed they should be eating more fresh foods but said they were too expensive to buy.

Mr Jenkins said the report revealed food insecurity in Ballarat as a complex issue that would take extensive time and resources to resolve, but improving distribution and access to volumes of fresh food could be addressed short term.

“The simple issue of being able to provide a greater volume of food and being able to do that in a coordinated fashion I think can be fixed in the fairly short term, it just needs money,” he said.

See a snapshot of the shocking survey results below 

Survey results indicate access to fresh food is not the only barrier.

One in five people don’t have cooking or cold storage facilities. Ten per cent of respondents don’t have access to either.

While respondents recommended better quality ‘fresher’ food to improve services, they also hoped for increased availability, with longer trading hours, greater frequency during the week, and more programs in varied locations.

BCH research coordinator Dr Deb Greenslade said a whole of community approach was needed to address food insecurity, with agencies working together to explore new approaches while extending current services.


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