Benchmarking Food Insecurity Knowledge and Attitudes amongst the Australian and UK Public

Project dates: 30/04/2015 - 01/12/2018

What and how we eat is important to our health and wellbeing and how the food is grown and processed impacts the environment and the economy. Food security is defined as ‘the ability of individuals, households and communities to acquire food that is healthy, sustainable, affordable, appropriate and accessible’ (NSW Centre for Public Health Nutrition, 2003). This means the aim of food security is for people to be able to afford a nutritious healthy diet that does not cost too much and is what they want and need.

For food security to exist there needs to be good food supply and access. While Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) are the 4th and 8th most food secure countries in the world (Global Food Security Index, 2016),  just over 1.1 million 3 day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis in 2015-16 (The Trussell Trust, 2016).  In Australia, more than 1.2 million Australians (5.2% of the population) indicated they had  had run out of food at least once in the past 12 months and been unable to afford to buy food; with higher levels of food insecurity identified within sub-groups of the Australian population including asylum seekers, aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, disadvantaged urban households (25%) and people who are unemployed and on benefits (SecondBite, 2015). Currently, data on the levels of food poverty is lacking among such groups and the scale of the problem may be underestimated.

Our research explored the extent of food insecurity in Australia and the UK and built a better public knowledge of the issues of food security to raise awareness of the problem and broaden the debate. Creating a public debate is a powerful tool to influence those who are in a position to make sustainable changes through policy and legislation.

This was a collaborative project between researchers in the University of Brighton Business School, Queensland University of Technology and SecondBite (a food security charity).