Food Security Matters to Everyone
by Brighton Council
At the end of 2023, Food Bank Australia released its latest Food Bank Hunger Report. In this report CEO Brianna Casey describes what food security actually means for Australians:
“Let’s put it in real terms. Food insecurity is waking early and sending your child off to school with a rumbling tummy and empty lunchbox because you’ve been forced into an impossible choice between paying the rent or buying food that week. Food insecurity is living at home alone as a pensioner, convincing yourself that three meals a day is a luxury, and that two – or even one – will suffice. Food insecurity is rushing to the fruit platter at a working lunch in the office because fresh fruit and vegetables have become a treat, rather than a dietary staple. Food insecurity is now having a mortgage, a full-time job and a side hustle, yet food is a discretionary spend in the household budget. I wish these were hypothetical examples. They’re not.”
In the past year, 3.7 million Australian households (36%) experienced moderate to severe food insecurity. This means, at the very least, they are reducing the quality, variety or desirability of their food and at worst, their eating patterns are disrupted.
According to the latest Food Bank Hunger Report more than 84,000 households in Tasmania struggled to put a meal on the table last year. The number of Tasmanians experiencing food insecurity has jumped by around 18,000 in just one year.
It is believed the main reason 87% of Tasmanian households are struggling to meet their food needs is the cost-of-living crisis, with 33% of food-insecure households in Tasmania also spending thousands of dollars on their mortgages each month.
Brighton Council understands all too well the need to support our community when it comes to the availability of good quality, affordable food. Our commitment to supporting the Brighton Community Food Hub and other community groups providing food services is grounded in this understanding. We want to ensure those living in our Brighton Municipality, and beyond, have access to sufficient quality and nutritious food.
Since 2022, Council has supported the Brighton Community Food Hub with the Food Hub operating from the Brighton Civic Centre, using the Main Hall and Theatrette (every second Wednesday and Thursday). Council also committed to work with the Brighton Community Food Hub to find a venue that would provide a dedicated shop front and storage space on a more permanent basis for what has become an essential community service within our municipality.
The Brighton Community Food Hub provides access for individuals and families to affordable food items on a fortnightly basis. The group is a not-forprofit incorporated association and is currently assisting more than 170 individuals and families in Brighton and surrounding areas, which equates to approximately 700 people each fortnight.
Council investigated several options over the past five months in consultation with the Food Hub. It became evident that the ‘Scout Hut’ near the Old Beach Community Hall at Lennox Park was the most suitable solution within the Brighton Municipality at this point in time. Once it was ascertained in conjunction with Council’s Development Services team, that the proposed use of the ‘Scout Hut’ was possible and that the Food Hub executive committee were satisfied with this option, Council officers met with a representative of the Old Beach Scout Group to discuss options. The Old Beach Scout Group has very graciously agreed to give up the ‘Scout Hut’ for the Brighton Community Food Hub to utilise as a permanent home and we sincerely thank the Old Beach Scout Group for their understanding and full co-operation in vacating the building. The Scouts will now operate solely out of the main Old Beach Community Hall.
In addition, the Food Hub has received a donation of a refurbished container from McConnell Dowell, to be used for storage purposes on site at Lennox Park. McConnell Dowell teamed up with the Bridgewater Trade Training Centre, JRLFSS, and Build Up Tassie, to help a group of 15 local female students gain exposure to building trades. It was called the “GET” Program – Gender Equity in Trades. McConnell Dowell did this by purchasing a 20ft container that the girls fitted out over a period of about 24 weeks, under the guidance of a Build Up Tassie supervisor at the Trade Training Centre in Bridgewater.
The Brighton Community Food Hub is extremely excited about the opportunity to move into a more permanent venue, with onsite storage and shop style shelving and Council is extremely pleased to advise that the Brighton Community Food Hub hope to be operating from their new premises at Lennox Park Old Beach by the end of February 2024 and plan to open on a more regular basis (2-3 days per week).
We wish the Food Hub all the very best with the move and hope the new location provides greater efficiencies and more regular access to affordable food for our community members against this very concerning backdrop of growing food insecurity across Tasmania and Australia.
There are a range of food services available in our Brighton area and we provide a directory of these services here in our Brighton Community News to make it easier for everyone to be aware of what is available locally, with many community organisations working hard to ensure our residents don’t go hungry.
Brighton Mayor Leigh Gray