This is why helping Victorians to put good food on their plates is one of our top priorities.
“Access to food is a human right. Every dollar you give to our appeals ensures, that together, we can fill empty plates, lunch boxes and, importantly, empty tummies. Together, we can provide nutritious food and make a difference in the lives of people struggling.”
We also introduced mobile pantries; vans stocked up to the roof with essential food items like rice, pasta, milk, cooking oil, tinned and sometimes frozen food.
The mobile pantries go out during the day, stopping at places such as parks, boarding houses and shopping centres. People often wait for them hours in advance, forming long lines to receive food that will ensure meals for several days. After paying rent and utilities, many simply cannot afford groceries – even if they have paid work.
Our local volunteer groups (known as conferences) are also making home visits to deliver groceries and vouchers across Victoria. While our homelessness accommodation and resource centre Ozanam House in Melbourne and its O Café provide meals and a cuppa with friendly chats to hundreds of people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.
Having no regular access to enough healthy, nutritious and appropriate food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy lifestyle is what we call food insecurity.
For children, particularly, food insecurity can have negative short- and long-term effects academically, socially, emotionally, physically and developmentally.
When we think of food insecurity we often think of developing countries; not of advanced economies like Australia. However, we know that food insecurity exists in our country.
Our volunteers see it every day. Our statistics show that the number of Victorians – adults and children - experiencing food insecurity is growing.
In a world where the price of necessities is on an unstoppable rise – from groceries and utilities to petrol, public transport and medical expenses – even the simplest aspects of daily living have become challenging for many Australians. That includes putting healthy food on the table.
Gavin Dufty, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria’s Policy & Research Manager, is concerned about the increase of people seeking our assistance who have jobs and earn wages and salaries: “It highlights the extent and impact of cost of living pressures. Everybody is being impacted – some much more severely than others.
“They are seeking support for food after they forked out money for other necessities such as rent, mortgage, utilities, petrol, public transport, medical and education expenses. That’s why they come to Vinnies, and we are here for them as best as we can. So that no one is alone in this,” Mr Dufty explains.
For Miriam, the mobile pantry means she can stock up on essential food items and high protein canned items like beans.
Before Gerry called Vinnies for help, he was skipping meals and eating what he had, which wasn't much.
Amy would make a 15km round trip on your bike to get fresh fruit and vegetables to ensure she wouldn't go hungry.
After paying rent, Amira had $200–$300 left per fortnight for expenses and food, unless there were bills to pay.