More Australians are going hungry now than at any other time in recent history, according to food charities struggling to help people as the donations they rely on plummet, The Age reports.
Demand for the services of some food relief charities has surged by up to sixfold in the past month as half the nation’s businesses either cut jobs or reduce hours. Meanwhile, donations from supermarkets and other businesses that usually give in bulk have dried up, charities say, as those companies work to keep their own shelves stocked with essential items following a wave of panic buying.
Droves of international students formed a 200-metre queue at a food bank in Southbank on Easter Sunday, and food relief centres have opened in the outer suburbs and regions to serve new cohorts of the community in economic distress.
Perversely, the pandemic that spawned the financial crisis is hampering charities’ ability to give to the needy.
Supermarkets have been buying greater amounts from suppliers and selling more to consumers, reducing the amount of surplus food and lowering donations to charities like Foodbank by 25 per cent.
More than 20 Victorian organisations offering food relief have shut their doors due to a lack of volunteers as people stay home, and charities that previously welcomed vulnerable people into communal food halls have been forced to distribute food in hampers from their front doors.
Younger women who make up a large proportion of the badly-affected retail, food and accommodation sectors – have been requiring emergency food packages at an alarming level, according to three inner-city charities.
Joint Base Andrews