A SecondBite of the food system apple
Author | SecondBite
Australia might be a food secure nation, but not everyone has a place at the table.
Access to fresh nutritious food is a basic human right and in Australia we are often seen as “food secure” because we are the “lucky country” and produce enough food to feed 60 million people annually. Unfortunately, over 5% of Australians experience personal food insecurity (i). This means that approximately 1.2 million people cannot regularly provide themselves with a culturally appropriate, safe and nutritious food supply from a non-emergency source. There are many factors that contribute to this situation including financial stress, homelessness, unemployment, illness, geographic isolation, minimal access to transport and lack of education around food and nutrition.
Community Food Programs are the primary source of food for many people experiencing food insecurity and in the current economic and social climate, food charities such as SecondBite report that 90% of the community food programs they support have experienced a recent increase in the demand for their food-related services (ii). Community food programs are operated by community and not-for-profit organisations and can include cooking classes, community meals, fresh food parcels, emergency relief services, social programs and outreach services for vulnerable Australians.
Food Security and Health
The economic cost of managing and treating diet-related disease in Australia is estimated to be $6 billion annually (iii). Increasing the fruit and vegetaFOODbles available to socio-economically disadvantaged Australians can have an impact on reducing chronic disease. More than 8% of low-income individuals are suffering from diabetes; in some disadvantaged regions the prevalence is 1 in 7 adults (the population average is 1 in 30) (iv). Low-income women are twice as likely to develop obesity (v) despite many spending a greater portion of their income on healthy foods. The poorest health is experienced by lower-income Australians and this is both unjust and unnecessary. Everyday SecondBite delivers thousands of free serves of rescued fruit and vegetables direct to the community – improving health and preventing disease over the long term.
Food and Social Inclusion
The feeling of eating juicy oranges or crunchy carrots is an intrinsic pleasure that can improve health, social and mental wellbeing. The social inclusion community members feel from sharing hearty meals or sending children to school with full lunch boxes, is a powerful, positive outcome of the fresh food provided through community food programs across Australia (vi).
SecondBite now has a footprint in every Australian state and territory and is on track to rescue and redistribute more than two and half million kilograms of healthy food this financial year. The Community Connect program is a low-cost scalable innovative food rescue model which is responsible for almost 25% of activities; the rest is from our warehouse hubs and vans servicing the community. The SecondBite nutrition and community capacity building programs are in their fourth successful year. In 2012 an increased investment into research enables a leap forward in improving our understanding of how food security may be achieved for vulnerable Australians. We want long-term and preventative solutions to the problem. If the food supply was sustainable and all Australians had access, SecondBite would no longer need to exist. It is to this end that we work every day.
Food is a simple medium through which powerful positive change can take place within our community. Food security in Australia means good conditions for farmers, sustainable food systems, fair food retailing and access to healthy food for all.
SecondBite is an innovative food rescue not-for-profit organisation, operating in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and NSW. They provide access to fresh surplus food for over 400 community food programs, last year rescuing over 1 million kg of fresh food.
(i) National Nutrition Survey, (1995); (ii) SecondBite More Hunger More Waste 2009; (iii) National Health and Medical Research Council, “Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults” (2003); (iv) Australian Community Centre for Diabetes (2010); (v)“Fair Health Statistics”, VicHealth, (2009); (vi) SecondBite, ‘Food Rescue. A Fresh Approach. Report 1’ (2011)