The Food Struggle During COVID-19 – An Opinion Piece

The whole country is suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of Australians out of work and struggling to make ends meet. New findings indicate that the effects of the pandemic go well beyond a health issue.  

According to the 2020 Foodbank Hunger Report, the number of Australians seeking food relief at least once a week has more than doubled to 31% in this year (up from 15% last year). 
 

The report indicates that a whopping 65% of Gen Z Aussies are going hungry at least once a week, with Gen Y following close behind with 57% unable to afford enough food on a weekly basis. 

This is largely a result of younger people being more likely to work casually, or work in fields that have been hit hardest by the pandemic (e.g retail and hospitality). 

I have to admit I do come from a bit of a outsider position talking about this topic. I am a 23-year-old still living at home, and I don’t share many of the same expenses that peers of mine have living out of home. 

What I can say is that I was considering moving out this year, however arriving in this course at AFTRS and having another massive HECS debt lumped on meant it would be wise to stay at home a little longer, especially if I couldn’t work regular hours. 

Back in December last year, we had no idea what COVID was and how it would change the world or the way we live. I can’t imagine what I would be doing right now if I had have moved out or hadn’t arrived in this course, but I also can’t imagine how tough it must be for many young people out there who are struggling to just feed themselves.  

It’s kind of a topic people aren’t openly talking about, many friends of mine are performers and artists who as we know have been excluded from the JobKeeper and JobSeeker wage subsidy schemes, and the past 6 months has been very dire. 

Interestingly, the report found that only 61% of people who are experiencing food insecurity are actually seeking relief, which is concerning for the health and welfare of thousands of Australians. Many cited shame, embarrassment or feeling like there are people who need it more as reasons for choosing not to seek food relief. 

However, Foodbank reports that seeking relief can help alleviate stress, relieve hunger and improve physical and mental health, so there’s really no need to be ashamed about it. 

That’s exactly the kind of advice I can offer too. If you are struggling, there are places to talk and be open about your insecurities. Lifeline is one such option –  they can be contacted on 13 11 14. 

But also, we need to remember that the whole world is in this pandemic together. No one is alone, and by being open and transparent with each other we can hopefully band together to make it smoothly through the next few years. 

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