Parents going without food to feed children

Australia is far from a third world country, so why are parents going hungry so their children have food to eat?

The Daily Telegraph conducted a survey on the current economic climate and the impact on families and their budgets and found one in three people had gone without food in the last year to allow their children to eat.

Of the 1000 surveyed, 75 per cent of families had to cut back on certain foods and eliminate others entirely.

With obesity rates in Australia at an all-time high, there are foods people need to be eating most, but worryingly, the survey found the it is these staples including bread, fruit and meat that are most commonly being excluded from the shopping trolley.

The Victorian government has spent $40 million on a Jamie- Oliver-inspired Ministry of Food campaign, to educate people about which foods to buy and the amount of exercise they should be committing to, but all that may just be good in theory for the many families who simply cannot afford the recommended foods.

The Salvation Army’s Moneycare service co-ordinator Tony Devlin told The Telegraph that more than 6000 struggling NSW families had sought financial counselling in the past 12 months.

"We’re seeing a lot of people with incredibly brutal budgets," he said.

"If something happens — if there’s an illness, if prices go up, if there’s a big electricity bill, if they need to get the car repaired or whatever — the only things people have left to cut back on are groceries and food.

"Other things are fixed and unfortunately for a lot of people these are the only things they have any sort of control over."

He said the impact on grocery buying habits had other negative consequences.

"Sometimes they are forced to buy a cheaper, less healthy item and obviously that has flow-on effects on their health and general wellbeing," he said.

"These are things we are certainly seeing on a daily basis through our welfare centres."

The supermarket giants who are under increased scrutiny lately over the presence of their private label products in place of competitors, and the infamous milk wars, have been arguing that such decisions are intended to save shoppers money.

But while some grocery items may be down, the Telegraph’s survey found 60 per cent of people spend between $100 and $250 on their shopping bill, an increase of between $40 and $100 for most shoppers from this time last year.

The shocking findings from the survey have again highlighted the two-speed economy present in Australia, with mining performing well and keeping the western states thriving, while the eastern states are struggling to make ends meet.

The Australian reports that it is seniors suffering most from the increased cost of living, with their pensions failing to keep up with rising prices for essentials.

Almost 750,000 older households are spending half their income food, health and energy.

Some of these items have risen four times the rate of inflation in the past five years, according to a report, and the pension increases are not able to keep up.

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