Young people between 18 and 25 years are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis with 65 per cent going hungry at least once a week, Foodbank's Hunger Report 2020 has revealed.
And the leading food relief organisation this week warned demand for food assistance has yet to reach its "peak hunger" as the government's JobKeeper and JobSeeker are rolled back.
The annual report also revealed 3 in 10 Australians who had not gone hungry before the pandemic were now facing food insecurity.
Gerry Andersen, the chief executive of Foodbank NSW and ACT, said this year's report emphasised that COVID 19 was having a profound effect on the food security of Australians.
"The report highlights that, while need for food relief has become somewhat erratic and unpredictable, charities are reporting that overall demand is up by 47 per cent and many of those now experiencing food insecurity (28 per cent) have never before needed support," he stated.
Mr Andersen also said the report revealed people seeking food relief assistance at least once a week had more than doubled since last year (from 15 per cent to 31 per cent).
Foodbank has also reported seeing new groups reaching out for help for the first time, particularly casual workers and international students.
"Students from universities, TAFE and private educational institutions have so far taken more than 8,200 hampers of pantry staples home across NSW, thanks to the support of the NSW Government," Mr Andersen said.
He warned the organisation was bracing itself for "dire need" in 2021.
The findings of this national snapshot reflect the picture closer to home: in August the Border's largest emergency food relief charity warned we are yet to see the real picture of poverty caused by COVID-19.
Other findings from the 2020 Hunger Report, now in its 8thyear and bringing together research undertaken with charities and individuals, include:
- The proportion of food insecure Australians seeking food relief at least once a week has more than doubled since last year, from 16% to 38% in NSW;
- 43% of food insecure Australians are going a whole day a week without eating versus 30% in 2019;
- Post-COVID-19, almost 35% of food secure Australians don't know how they will cope or expect they won't cope at all when the additional government support is withdrawn.