It’s no secret that 2020 has been a hard year for many Australians. The pandemic and subsequent economic fallout has led to job cuts and financial insecurity across the country, and while lockdowns are easing in most states, life continues to be tough, especially for Victorians.

For some Australians, the financial impact of Covid-19 has been severe, with many turning to food relief for the first time, according to the 2020 Hunger Report just released by Foodbank, Australia’s nationwide hunger-relief organisation. Data was drawn from a survey of 1001 Australians who have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months. The main survey was conducted in June 2020, plus five “pulse” surveys conducted between April and September with an average of 500 participants per survey.

The results are concerning. According the report, “15 per cent of Australians experiencing food insecurity were seeking food relief at least once a week” in 2019. In 2020, that figured has doubled to 31 per cent. Twenty-eight per cent of people experiencing food insecurity in 2020 had never experienced it before. Even more concerning is the finding that 43 per cent Australians experiencing food insecurity right now “are going a whole day without eating at least once a week” (compared to 30 per cent in 2019).

Young people are among the hardest-hit – 65 per cent of food-insecure people between the ages of 18 and 25 (Gen Zs) are going hungry at least once a week. The report also identified two new, emerging demographics experiencing food insecurity: casual workers and international students. Two in five charities saw an increase in international students seeking food relief, as their visa status makes them ineligible for government assistance. And unsurprisingly, 70 per cent of charities have seen an increase in the number of newly unemployed people seeking food relief since Covid-19 hit.

If you want to help support people experiencing food insecurity, you can do so by fundraising, holding a food drive, volunteering, or donating cash or products. Visit the Foodbank website for more information.