The Foodbank Hunger Report: Driving Advocacy for Zero Hunger in Australia
February 23, 2023
Every year, Foodbank Australia’s FoodbankHunger Report provides a sobering snapshot of food insecurity in the country. As the only annual record of food insecurity in Australia, this hallmark report is a trusted resource for policymakers, NGOs, food industry leaders, and hunger advocates alike. Through its comprehensive relevance to issues like nutrition, child hunger, and food policy, the Foodbank Hunger Report provides an ideal opportunity for Foodbank Australia to engage in advocacy at the federal, state, and territory level, and ultimately propel systemic changes that address the root causes of hunger.
Increasing awareness about Australia’s food insecurity
Prior to the Foodbank Hunger Report, the only national information on hunger was collected once every five years through the Australian Census. Foodbank Australia knew that this information—just one or two questions in the Census—was insufficient to drive greater awareness and understanding of food insecurity in the country.
In 2012, the first Foodbank Hunger Report was released to shed light on the prevalence of food insecurity around the nation and elevate Foodbank’s role in alleviating the issue. Each reportreveals annual statistics on hunger and analyzes how factors such as household size and income, natural disasters, and increased costs-of-living influence food security.
The state of Australia’s food insecurity in 2022
The 2022 report found that over two million households in Australia, or over one in five people, experienced severe food insecurity over the previous twelve months.
“Severe food insecurity means that people skip meals or go days without eating because they don’t have enough money for food,” said Sarah Pennell, a Foodbank Australia General Manager, who oversees the national research program that produces the Foodbank Hunger Report. “This year, increased costs of living were cited as the main reason households are experiencing food insecurity, followed by reduced incomes or insufficient government benefits.”
Foodbank Australia understands hunger does not exist in a silo; poverty and unemployment are key drivers of food insecurity, and the cost-of-living crisis that has unfolded since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine has only exacerbated these issues. In the run up to the announcement of the annual federal budget in May, there have been renewed calls to significantly increase Australia’s unemployment aid (specifically JobSeeker payments), especially as more people are on the brink of vulnerability due to the current skyrocketing cost of living.
In fact, data from the 2022 Foodbank Hunger Report found that of all food insecure households surveyed, nearly half reported increased food and grocery costs; 42 percent cited increased energy costs; and one third mentioned increased housing costs as reasons for having compromised access to food. With the threat of a recession on the horizon, Foodbank Australia has been pushing for the government to permanently increase JobSeeker payments to help those at severe risk of food insecurity.
Despite these important efforts, Foodbank Australia recognizes that their work is just one part of the effort to alleviate hunger. While many factors—including better social protections, employment opportunities, and affordable housing—are needed to achieve Zero Hunger, Foodbank Australia will continue to provide food assistance and closely analyze the country’s food security situation (and setbacks) through the FoodbankHunger Report annually.
“Improving food access is the first step,” said Pennell. “Yet the aid we provide is not a band-aid solution to hunger; it’s part of a continuum that helps people in vulnerable situations get to a place of well-being. And we hope that the Foodbank Hunger Report tells this story.”