Would you believe me if I told you that 1 in 5 children in Australia face food insecurity? Here I am, nursing my newborn baby, and I can’t even fathom the thought of her going hungry, or myself as a mother, not having the means to provide a nutritious meal for my children. The frightening reality is, that 21% of Australian households with children under the age of 15 have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.
Once you know you can’t help but do something….and that’s exactly how I felt this week after hearing about child hunger in Australia. I was invited by Sanitarium WeetbixTM to attend an intimate breakfast and hear about an important issue that is not generally spoken about – ‘food insecurity’. According to Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey, ‘food insecurity’ is “the unfortunate reality that they do not have regular access to the ingredients required to put a nutritious meal on the table for themselves and their family”.
Sanitarium’s Good Start Breakfast Club program was established as a means to provide a nutritious breakfast in a warm, welcoming environment before school classes start. They’ve partnered with Foodbank Australia and Kickstart for Kids to support breakfast clubs around Australia. Hunger and poor nutrition can have devastating impacts on a child’s development – both physically and mentally! Foodbank’s Rumbling Tummies report released in April 2018 found that at least once per week, 18% of food insecure children go to school without eating breakfast, 15% go to school without a packed lunch or lunch money and 11% go to bed without eating dinner.
I could quote stats all day long, but the take home message for me from this event was that this isn’t just happening in third world countries – it’s happening in our communities, schools and street. For a family that’s living pay cheque to pay cheque, all it could take is a rise in rent, a big electricity bill or jobs loss for them to have to make a choice between eating and keeping a roof over their heads.
Unsurprisingly, parents who are experiencing food insecurity feel shame and embarrassment and are concerned about how others will perceive their situation. Jules Sebastian, who is lending her voice to this important cause has a simple ask… to break down the stigma and begin raising awareness about such an important cause.
Volunteers are needed to continue the program in schools across Australia, and I urge you to spread the word about the issue of food insecurity as best you can! Please use the link below to see how you can help.