food rescue charity SecondBite finds workers hit by hunger

A long, cold winter has arrived for a new group of food insecure Australians, as food rescue charity SecondBite launches its winter appeal to bring relief now needed even by those in stable work.

Food relief isn’t new – but those who need it now has dramatically changed.

Shocking statistics from food rescue charity SecondBite reveal that people in stable employment can’t stretch their budgets far enough to cover major bills and food.

SecondBite CEO Steve Clifford said the food relief agency already knew one in six Australians were affected by food insecurity, but it never used to be those with jobs.

“Once upon a time, when you had a job, we didn’t see you at our agencies,” Mr Clifford said. “This is something that’s been happening in the last few months.”

He pointed to a range of factors, including Covid, floods on the east coast of Australia, the start of winter and increased cost of living, including electricity and petrol.

“It’s a bit like that game wack-a-mole, people get their head above water and then they’re hit with one thing after another,” he said.

Food is essential, but SecondBite’s research found it was considered a “malleable” cost that was easiest to cut out.

“If the rent is due every month, there’s only so long you can miss paying it, and you have to keep the lights on and heating in winter,” Mr Clifford said. “When costs are going up, but you have a fixed income, then there’s no money left for food.”

The Coles SecondBite Winter Appeal launched Wednesday – an annual chance to help fellow Australians who are going hungry. News Corp Australia community ambassador Penny Fowler said she was proud to have been an ambassador for SecondBite since 2011.

“SecondBite’s work has never been so important as now when many Australians face a daily struggle with spiralling living costs, to the point they are no longer sure where their next meal is coming from or when it will be,” Ms Fowler said.

Celebrity chef and Coles ambassador Curtis Stone, called on customers to dig deep during the Winter Appeal to support those in our community doing it tough.

“As the temperature plummets, it really hits home how difficult this winter will be for so many who cannot afford to put a regular, healthy meal on the table,” Stone said. “By donating as little as $2, SecondBite can provide the equivalent of 10 nutritious meals to families or individuals in need.”

Mr Clifford said that food insecurity was the tip of the iceberg.

“When people come to get food, it’s also a terrific opportunity to access other services, such as financial counselling, mental health support and housing assistance,” he said.

“It’s not just about food. As rising cost of living continues, the end result could be very grim for these people.”

Buy a $2 donation card at Coles supermarkets until Tuesday, July 5, or make a donation at any Liquorland, First Choice Liquor or Vintage Cellars store until Tuesday, July 12.

Originally published as Why Australians needing food relief has dramatically changed

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