10% of NZers do not have enough suitable food

food insecurity

The Auckland City Mission says over the last few years, demand for food has continually and dramatically increased.

Food insecurity, or food poverty, is defined as not having enough appropriate food.

The City Mission says information about food insecurity in New Zealand is outdated and sparse.

But research led by the mission’s general manager of social services, Helen Robinson,  estimates about 10 per cent of the population is experiencing food insecurity.

The survey involved 650 people who had accessed the organisation’s foodbank.

19 per cent of children live in families which lack food security

A 2019 New Zealand Health Survey estimate indicated that although the majority of children live in food-secure households,  many New Zealand children do not.

In 2015/16, almost one in five children (19.0%) lived in households with severe to moderate food insecurity.

Women, Maori and Pasifika

Predominantly, women were the face of food insecurity and were bearing the greatest burden of poverty.

Māori and Pasifika people were also over-represented amongst those living with food insecurity, the City Mission said.

The research found that nearly 40 per cent of those surveyed have struggled to access enough appropriate food for themselves and their household for two years or more.

People who didn’t have enough food were more likely to be emotionally unwell and were distressed some of the time.

Linked to poverty

The City Mission said food insecurity is linked to poverty.

Once housing costs were paid, low-income individuals and families were often forced to choose between buying food and other essential costs.

When there wasn’t enough money for food, people either ate poorly or missed meals completely.

The City Mission has called for action

  • Hold an annual survey to gather information about how adults and children are affected by food insecurity
  • Develop a national food strategy giving vision and direction, cohesion and coordination to ensure everyone has enough appropriate food
  • Consider women-oriented interventions, such as raising the level of the sole parent support payment, and providing further financial assistance to women raising children
  • Raise income levels.

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News category: New Zealand.

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