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EXPERIENCES OF CHILDHOOD FOOD INSECURITY Sue King and John Bellamy.

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Presentation on theme: "EXPERIENCES OF CHILDHOOD FOOD INSECURITY Sue King and John Bellamy."— Presentation transcript:

1 EXPERIENCES OF CHILDHOOD FOOD INSECURITY Sue King and John Bellamy

2 What is food insecurity? Food insecurity is the ‘limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways’ (Life Sciences Research Office, 1996:6) Measured among individuals using the USDA Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM)

3 National study of ER service users Study conducted in Anglicare agencies across Australia 590 Emergency Relief service users interviewed 9 questions about adults’ experience of food insecurity 7 questions about children in the household

4 Questions asked of ER service users Perceptions about the adequacy of the household food budget or food supply Perceptions about the adequacy and quality of the food eaten by adults and children Reported instances of reduced food intake, or consequences of reduced intake, among adults Reported instances of reduced food intake or its consequences among children

5 Food insecurity among adult ER service users The overwhelming majority of ER service users (96%) experienced some form of food insecurity Three out of four of respondents (76%) were severely food insecure Almost one third (31%) were severely food insecure almost every week

6 Food insecurity among the children of ER service users

7 Frequency of food insecurity among children (3 month period)

8 Food insecurity among the children of ER service users

9 The majority of households make compromises on the quality of food provided for their children Children do not have enough to eat in half of households Children are skipping meals in a quarter of households Children are going without food for a whole day in 10% of households A third of children are severely food insecure

10 Impacts on ER service user households Stress and anxiety “You stress over things ‘cos you don’t know where the next feed’s coming from.” Social isolation “Very withdrawn and I don’t go out. Don’t want to let people know.” Anger and family conflict “We get angry and argue if we don’t eat.” Feeling of being depressed and low self esteem “It makes me want to burst into tears. It’s very hard.” “To see an empty fridge is depressing. It is a constant reminder of the situation.”

11 Impacts on ER service user households Feelings of shame and embarrassment “It makes me feel degraded as a human being and we don’t entertain anymore.” Poor functioning “Affects mentally and can’t function if hungry” Compromised health “Just drinking tea and water...vomiting...get weak” Providing for children “I think’ How an I gonna feed my kids?’”

12 Impacts on children Behavioural issues “Kids get cranky and irritable.” Lack of social connections “Anything [I do] with the kids has to be free and within walking distance of the home.” Impaired school attendance and performance “It affects everything. The school wants to know why the kids are hungry.” Child’s view of the world “Kids see others have more and judge home.”

13 Putting children first “Sometimes I go without to ensure my child has food.” “The last thing I want is for my children to go without food.” “I know a lot of people that go without to feed their children.” “I’ve tried to cut down on food portions to let children have enough and not go to bed hungry. I try to give them meat with five veg and go without myself.” “I buy a little bit of food every day so I know the baby has something to eat that day.” “I ensure my son always has the basics of bread, spreads, milk, yoghurt and fruit, in addition to cereal and eggs to ensure basic needs are covered... he never goes without, even if I do.”

14 Possible Policy Solutions  A National Food plan  Locally-based food initiatives  Increased emergency relief food services  Case management through emergency relief services  Addressing income adequacy  Increased Commonwealth Rental Assistance

15 Conclusion In households that attend Anglicare Emergency Relief centres there are children going without food – some on a fairly regular basis. Food insecurity impacts on adult wellbeing which has an impact on the whole household. For children this can lead to family conflict, behavioural issues, social disconnection, and poorer school performance. Adults appear to protect their children from food insecurity but sometimes there is just not enough food.


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