Families Struggling to Put Food on the Table
27 September 2018 at 5:09 pm
To make sure his family has enough food on the table, Craig delays paying bills when he can, buys home-brand items at the supermarket, and only uses his car when absolutely necessary.
Soon after he moved with his wife and kids from the Blue Mountains to Kempsey to be closer to family, Craig found himself struggling financially.
The move itself was costly, and with a sudden increase in rent, he had to make sacrifices just to put food on the table.
“We only go out in the car when we really have to, because fuel is so expensive and we need to save money,” Craig told Pro Bono News.
“And when we buy food, instead of brand names, we buy home-brand to save cash.
“If we don’t have enough money to pay bills straight away, then we ask for an extension so we have time to get money. The main priority is to make sure the rent is paid so we have somewhere to live.”
Craig’s situation is by no means unique, with new research from the NSW Council of Social Service revealing more than 350,000 people in NSW went hungry at some stage in the past year.
The NCOSS report surveyed more than 400 people on low incomes and found 39 per cent had run out of food and were unable to afford more.
To make sure they had food every day, respondents said they had resorted to smaller meals (41 per cent), forgoing medication, transport and clothing (40 per cent), or delaying bills (30 per cent).
More than half (58 per cent) said they couldn’t afford to eat fruit and vegetables everyday.
NCOSS interim CEO Kathy Chapman said it was shocking people were having to choose between an empty stomach or paying their bills, having warm clothes, and buying medication.
She said she was also dismayed people couldn’t afford fruit or vegetables.
“We talk a lot about the importance of a healthy diet – people on low incomes, particularly parents, know this too. But they are telling us they can’t afford fruit or vegetables,” Chapman said.
“Food is a discretionary spend for those with tight budgets – for those stressed about providing food, fresh fruit and vegetables are seen as luxury items.”
In the recently released NCOSS Cost of Living Report it was recorded that a massive 22% of children are living in food insecure households. @_ncoss_ #health4allkids https://t.co/QiQnkriZQq pic.twitter.com/EfB4S40d4u
— The RACP (@TheRACP) September 25, 2018
Craig said his family was among those who could not afford to buy much fruit and vegetables because of their financial situation, but that this changed when he discovered Kempsey food co-op, The Saving Place.
The co-op offers people access to free weekly food parcels, full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
This also led Craig to volunteer with the program.
“Because they helped us up so much over a six month period, I decided to give back, which is why I started volunteering and helping out other people in need,” he said.
Craig said the government should look at increasing welfare to make things easier for families struggling and NCOSS agrees, calling for income payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance to be increased by $75 a week.
“If we increase the Newstart and Youth Allowance we will go a long way to addressing hunger and that money will pumped straight back into the NSW economy – benefiting everyone,” Chapman said.