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Food relief demand surges ahead of Christmas

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The demand for food relief is growing, as Australia's peak food bank records its busiest pre-Christmas peak.
young people food insecurity

More Australians are at risk of going hungry in the lead-up to Christmas, with “unprecedented” demand for food relief services.

Foodbank, Australia’s largest food relief organisation, says it’s experienced record demand for services during recent months, amid rising food prices.

The organisation warned the current peak in food insecurity is likely to continue throughout the holidays.

Food insecurity

Food insecurity is a term used to describe the experience of having limited options or access to food, often due to financial pressures.

Foodbank describes food insecurity as a a spectrum, which can range from anxiety about paying for food, to skipping meals or going days without eating.

Food insecurity can lead to health, dietary and nutritional issues. About 3.7 million Australian households have suffered food insecurity this year.

Cost of food

Food is becoming more expensive in Australia, according to the latest data on food inflation (rising prices). Food prices were 5.3% higher in October than last year. Groceries like bread and cereals are 8.5% more expensive.

It’s prompted accusations of supermarket “price gouging” — the practice of unreasonably raising the cost of certain products.

A Senate inquiry into Coles and Woolworths is investigating these claims.

Record numbers

CEO Brianna Casey told TDA demand for Foodbank services in Victoria has been “very pronounced” over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, a daily average of 744 households in WA sought food relief from Foodbank in November – a record set ahead of Christmas.

In NSW and ACT, the number of people seeking food relief increased by 50% in recent weeks.

Remote communities

Many frontline charities that support remote communities close down during the school holiday break.

Casey said Foodbank Australia is responding to requests from remote parts of the NT and SA for the first time.

She told TDA multiple regions were also recovering from floods and fires, with some still living in temporary accomodation and “struggling” with day-to-day costs.

High demand

Casey told TDA “it’s always busy at this time of the year”, but this year’s Christmas peak in demand is “unprecedented” due to cost of living expenses increasing.

“It’s not tapering off. And we are planning and forecasting for this increased demand to continue in the months ahead,” said Casey.

Pre-Christmas food relief

Foodbank said it’s boosting operations over the coming week in response to the high demand for assistance.

The organisation is preparing thousands of Christmas hampers to meet the needs of the growing number of food-insecure households.

“There’s never been a greater need for emergency relief and food relief than there is right now, and there have never been more challenges in terms of our ability to do that,” Casey said.

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