We cannot thank Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore enough for this food relief initiative. And for the thinking behind it.
This is not simply a matter of charity or just feeding people. With rents smashing people’s quality of life and real-estate greed intensifying the troubles of many who once felt they were ‘comfortable’ (and now find themselves fighting against rising interest rates and mortgage pressures) Australia is a nation in trouble.
More and more and more people are walking the proverbial ‘Hungry Mile’. Why groups like the Addi Road Community Organisation and others are increasingly having to fill the gap and take this walk with those in need is a conversation that needs to be had. But the truth is community organisations like ours are straining under the pressure, the need that is out there.
From our emergency food relief hampers to rising requests for food vouchers and the 6,000+ people that we assist through our Addi Road Food Pantry operations, we see how things really are.
Of the 537 mayors across the country, Clover Moore is the only local council leader we are aware of to understand what is going on and respond substantially. Addi Road, OzHarvest and First Nations Response (FNR) addressed City of Sydney in a Council meeting just last week. It’s rare to see political figures move so fast and so effectively.
As we said, this is NOT a matter of charity. Food on the table restores pride, provides a breathing space for families and individuals alike to keep going while under pressure. It’s a matter integral to self-respect, offering a breathing space as incomes are sucked into rising rents and cost-of-living pressures that negate people’s ability to feed themselves. Mental health, relationships, emotional stamina, children’s levels of anxiety, the room to innovate in some small way and climb out of your difficulties is shot to pieces if you can’t afford enough food to get by each day.
So we thank Clover Moore and the City of Sydney for listening, for acting so quickly and for understanding. Let’s feed the people with strength and respect. Please stop for a moment and picture a meal on a table – and think what it means to those who sit there after a hard day, in a hard week, in these hard times.
This is the real work being done: food, justice, community.
STATEMENT in full from City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore
(dated Monday 21 August 2023)
If you’ve just sat down to a delicious meal, don’t take it for granted…
Shockingly, food relief organisations tell me that demand for free food is now far higher than in Covid, with employed people on low incomes joining the queues of people who can’t afford to eat.
As people struggle to pay their bills amid the cost-of-living crisis, they are forgoing food in order to pay for housing, health and heating.
According to FoodBank’s 2022 Hunger Report, over two million Australian households had experienced severe food insecurity in the preceding 12 months. And the situation is only getting worse.
Food relief organisations within our local area urgently need funding and support so they can meet the increasing demand for food relief as the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact our communities.
In June I asked the Council to consider further support for food relief organisations.
In response the City has created a new $5.1 million program that will support projects and programs that improve access to affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food for our diverse communities.
OzHarvest, Addi Road Community Organisation and First Nations Response addressed Council last week. I’m incredibly appreciative of their work, and the insight they shared with us to help shape the program.
OzHarvest says that demand for free food has never been so high, with charities they service having seen a 73 per cent increase in need and over a third of clients seeking food relief for the first time.
First Nations Response has seen requests for their culturally appropriate, community-led support double since late 2022.
Addison Road’s Camperdown Food Pantry has seen a 32 per cent increase in demand in the past year, and are increasingly seeing low-income workers whose capacity to buy food has decreased as their rents have increased, including nurses.
This the heartbreaking reality of food insecurity in Sydney.
I call on the State and Federal Governments to step up and join us in providing urgent and ongoing financial support for food relief organisations amid the cost-of-living crisis.