Thousands of emergency food relief baskets are now packed and delivered every day in New South Wales, with a leading charity saying demand has increased by more than 200% during the lockdown of Greater Sydney.
Foodbank says it has helped deliver more than 10,000 emergency relief baskets to people in the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong areas since the lockdown was announced on June 26 – i.e. an increase of 210%.
Between 2,500 and 3,500 baskets are packed each day.
“We have seen a massive increase in demand for food aid,” Foodbank NSW CEO John Robertson told SBS News.
“For tens of thousands of people in New South Wales right now, the brutal reality of not having the money to buy basic items for food or their families is devastating.”
Relief baskets are also being sent to people in need in Canberra and remote areas of NSW along with indigenous communities.
“Greater Sydney may be stranded, but the impacts are being felt across the state,” Mr. Robertson said.
“When the first round of closures took place last year, we also saw food insecurity, but the spike is more noticeable this time around – and with the shutdown of non-essential retail and construction businesses, we expect demand increases further later in the week.
The food bank is supporting more than 170,000 people this month in partnership with more than 1,000 charities and schools, Mr. Robertson said.
“We are struggling to maintain supplies for families, and the food bank buys most of the produce, including rice, crackers, canned meats and vegetables, as donations cannot keep up.”
Neha, an international student who recently became unemployed, is among those currently surviving in food bank baskets.
“I have lost my job twice due to the lockdown and have been out of work since June 29,” she said.
“My parents live in India and we have used up all of our savings over the past 10 months.”
Australia is one of the most food secure countries in the world, producing far more food than the population can eat and exporting around 70 percent of agricultural production.
Still, the food bank estimates 65% of NSW and ACT residents have had access to food assistance since the COVID-19 hit last year, with families struggling to cope. in different ways.
“Moms and dads may decide they won’t eat but they will feed their children, or a whole family could eat two meals a day or just one meal a day because that’s all they can afford.” said Mr. Robertson.
“Many are now seeking food aid for the first time. It is not because they have made bad choices in life, but they are living from salary to salary.
“This is a significant crisis. A lot of people have found themselves in a situation they could never have imagined.”
Wayside Chapel CEO Jon Owen said many people are worried about where their next meal will come from.
“We care about the people who do it hard and a lot of them live on the streets,” he said.
“What we are seeing this time is that many families are falling apart and are unable to make ends meet.”
He said the lockdown resulted in increased levels of anxiety and depression and urged those who felt weak to help care for others less fortunate.
“These are difficult weeks. But the greatest path to mental health and well-being is to take care of others, it is to step out of your own world. “
Neha said she is grateful for the food bank basket and hopes to eventually return the kindness.
“I hope to pay it back someday by helping someone in need like me.”
Those who wish to make a donation can do so at foodbank.org.au.
Readers seeking mental health support can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyondblue.org.au. Embrace multicultural mental health supports people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.