ONE in 10 Bendigo residents ran out of food in a 12-month period and could not afford to buy more, according to the Bendigo Wellbeing Survey.
Ten per cent of those aged 19 to 25 who responded to the council survey ran out of food more than once a month, and 4.5 per cent of those under 18 ran out of food each week. The figures show a 31 per cent rise from 2008 in people who ran out of food and were unable to buy more.
Foodbank Victoria rural community support officer Brien Baxter said 10 tonnes of food was distributed to emergency relief agencies in Bendigo each month, but more was needed.
“Those figures don’t surprise me,” Mr Baxter said.
“We’ve been seeing a trend across Loddon Mallee agencies of an increasing need for assistance from people who might not have needed assistance in the past.
“It’s not necessarily people who have no income, it’s quite often people with a single income that are experiencing difficulty.”
Mr Baxter said the rising cost of living was driving people to seek support.
“It’s the current economic climate, the cost of living in terms of water, power, and at this time of year people will be experiencing all the difficulties of back to school cuts,” he said.
“We need more donations.”
Figures from St Vincent de Paul Society show 14,497 people in the Bendigo region were helped by the organisation. The assistance was valued at $408,067.
Mr Baxter said Foodbank sourced food and gave it to agencies to distribute.
But he said there was a limit to the assistance the agencies could provide.
“There’s a limit to how many times you can go to an agency,” he said.
“The agencies have to be a bit frugal with the food they give out.
“We don’t have as much food as we can give out.”
About 38 per cent of survey respondents said they didn’t have access to the food they wanted, like fresh food and vegetables, due to price, compared with 6 per cent statewide.
Mr Baxter said more people where seeking food relief, and more often.
“Christmas was predictably busy,” he said.
“We feel we can attempt to meet the needs of people this year.”
More than 1500 people responded to the survey.