Greater Bendigo home to almost 7000 children who have experienced hunger

ALMOST 7000 children in Greater Bendigo have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months, statistics indicate.

Foodbank has found more than one in five children, nationwide, have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months.

The risk of experiencing hunger was 25 per cent higher for a child living in a household outside capital cities.

Bendigo Foodshare chair Cathie Steele took the figures in the Rumbling Tummies: Child Hunger in Australia report a step further by applying them to our local government area.

Her estimate, based on income-adjusted data, was that food insecurity affected almost 7000 children in Greater Bendigo.

Children living in communities where the average income was lower were even more likely to have experienced hunger.

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The Foodbank report found a direct link between the cost of living and food insecurity – an issue 51 per cent of parents in food insecure households expected to become more challenging, rather than less, over time.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said their bills seemed to be increasingly expensive, while 18 per cent were concerned about housing costs.

“What happened to the lucky nation?” Ms Steele said.

City of Greater Bendigo health and wellbeing director Vicky Mason said council was continuing to investigate the feasibility of a food hub in Bendigo.

The proposal was the subject of discussion during a meeting last week.

A suitable location for the hub has yet to be determined, with the former Crystal Industries site on Garsed Street found not to be “financially sustainable”.

“We haven’t given up on a food hub for Bendigo,” Ms Mason said on Monday.

She was concerned by the challenges Bendigo Foodshare was experiencing transporting frozen and fresh food from Foodbank Victoria.

Following difficulties with its freight provider, Foodbank Victoria appointed a new provider which does not have capacity for chilled transport.

Bendigo Foodshare is seeking a local solution to the issue, which affects a number of Foodshares in regional Victoria.

Greg Noonan is the president of the Eaglehawk Community House committee.

Demand for meals at the community house has grown from more than 50 meals a month in July 2017 to about 300 a month this year.

A limited supply of fresh and frozen produce from Bendigo Foodshare has meant the meals are becoming a significant cost to the community house.

“We’re just really relying on the generosity of people’s donations,” Mr Noonan said.