One in every five Australian children has gone hungry in the past 12 months according to a new report, with some even resorting to chewing paper to try to feel full.
According to koodakpress،
The survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by Foodbank shows 22 per cent of Australian children under the age of 15 live in a household that has run out of food at some stage over the past year.
One in five kids affected go to school without eating breakfast at least once a week, while one in 10 go a whole day at least once a week without eating anything at all.
“I think that’s a very sad indictment on us as a society,” Foodbank Victoria chief executive Dave McNamara said.
This isn’t made-up. This is a story we heard setting up one of our school breakfast programs down in Lakes Entrance, which is a beautiful part of the country.
“No-one’s spared. It’s not people on the street; it’s people in your street. It’s in every community across Australia.”
Collin Peebles, chief executive of the Geelong Food Relief Centre, said demand had exploded for services over the past three years.
“Only recently we had a seven-year-old girl walk into the Food Bank on a Thursday afternoon, she hadn’t eaten anything for five days,” he said.
He said mortgage stress and the cost of living were driving families to use foodbanks for the first time.
Louise Holland knows first hand what it is like to constantly worry about not having enough food to feed her children.
The former nurse, from Sydenham in Melbourne’s north-west, took time out of the workforce to care for her ill husband five years ago.
He died in 2016, leaving her as the sole carer for her four children.
Once the family’s savings were gone, it became harder and harder to make ends meet.
“We would eat low-grade mincemeat, sausages … anything that was filling but that was cheap,” she said.
“Sometimes the kids would go to school with no lunch. There would always be something on the table at night, but it might not have been as nutritious as it should have been.”
Sometimes things got so bad, Ms Holland and her eldest son, Nathan, 20, would not eat.
“We thought as long as the younger ones were fed, that was the main thing,” she said.
It was not until January this year that she decided to seek support, turning to the Helping Hands food pantry in Melbourne’s Airport West.
Families are allowed to access 20 kilograms of fresh food and pantry staples a week, for a gold coin donation.
“It was an incredibly hard step to take,” she said through tears.
“No-one wants to admit they’re not coping, I’m a very proud person. But I’d just tell anyone who is struggling to put food on the table — get help. It is out there.”
Melanie Kent established the Helping Hands charity in 2007, initially to help drought-affected people in rural Victoria.
She now runs three food pantries in Airport West, Sunshine and near Bendigo, and demand is unprecedented.
Ms Kent said 600 families used the food pantry service every week, the majority of them women and children.
“There’s fresh food and healthy food here for people, but sometimes it’s also important for people to be able to have a treat,” Ms Kent said.
“I had one mum come to me and she said, ‘You know, I’ve been able to pick up things from your pantry like muesli bars’.
“She said ‘because of you, my kids don’t know that we’re poor’.
“So it’s important for different reasons for different people.”