Right here in Australia, too many people run out of food regularly and go to sleep hungry. Between 5 and 8% of Australians commonly experience times when they have no food and no money to purchase.
For people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds living in remote, rural and urban communities, malnutrition is a major contributor to chronic disease and high mortality rates. Sebastien Brignano worked with Red Cross for five years with remote communities in Australia to develop long-term sustainable solutions to food problems.
While working in a remote community in the Northern Territory, Sebastien experienced first hand the very high price of fresh food when a lettuce cost him $9. He says, "One of the reasons why people are eating really bad diets is because the cheap food is junk." With many in the community on welfare they simply cannot afford to purchase fresh and healthy food. It's an incredibly difficult hurdle for a community to overcome.
Housing problems in the area are creating additional challenges. Sebastien says, "One lady was living in a tent outside her house because she had to share her house with twenty people." She buys and prepares the food for the household, and with the high prices of fresh and nutritious food she simply cannot afford to provide it for the whole family.
Red Cross programs span the spectrum from crisis food relief through to building individual and community capacity for long term sustainable solutions. We are working with communities to promote the availability of affordable food, provide healthy cooking and food preparation education, maximise local food production opportunities, encourage community food co-operatives and groups and provide adequate storage facilities.