20 – Hannah R.

Hi, I’m Hannah! I am a junior majoring in Global Nutritional Sciences with a double minor in Environmental Sustainability and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. I am from Metro Detroit where I have spent my whole life before moving to East Lansing. I love to read a wide variety of books, from fiction to historical novels. I am very dedicated to music and am always listening to new genres! In my free time, I love to go hiking, drawing, and watching movies with friends.

I am stoked to have the opportunity to travel and learn in Australia. I have been doing sustainability work and research for a small non-profit, and I am very excited to be able to take what I have learned here and be able to apply it to a new environment as well as gain knowledge of a completely different place.

For my research focus, I want to investigate food insecurity and food system issues within the areas we will be visiting. According to Feeding America, the United States has reported that 1 in 8 individuals are considered food insecure with more than 12 million being children. As aid and resources are bring provided to assist in reducing this issue domestically, there are still numerous issues that are not being properly addressed. Food insecurity is prevalent in every country, and while I am staying in Australia I will be assessing the strategies that the Australian society are doing to reduce insecurity in cities specifically.

Food insecurity compromises peoples’ well being and health, and can lead to a reduced ability to focus in school, at work, and in daily activities. Not only can it lead to malnutrition, but it can also cause social insecurities as many people want to hide that they are struggling to obtain continual and adequate food supply. It is estimated that over 5% of Australians are considered food insecure and cannot access a constant supply of nutritious and safe food to eat. Current research has shown that families that are on a welfare program on average spend 40% of their income on a nutritious diet (Rosier, 2011).

My goal is to discover and understand the resources being implemented in Australia to reduce food insecurity in impoverished areas as well as potential solutions to this issue. With this information, I want to further the topic to be able to compare Australia’s data to America’s and seeing where progress can be made in both countries.

While in Australia, I was able to visit an amazing non-profit called FairShare Kitchen. They have a mission statement revolving on tackling food insecure households and individuals while also reducing food waste. Being located in the urban city of Melbourne, they understand different ways people struggle to access food ranging from a low income to being homeless. To be able to provide to everyone they can, they make 5,000 meals in two styles everyday – one handheld pastry and one ready to cook oven meal for a family (FairShare,2018). These easy to go options reduces the need to have a kitchen to cook in or any appliances, giving more people a chance to be fed. Knowing that these meals could be the only one that could be eaten that day, they strive to add in as much “protein and vegetables to provide vulnerable people with as much nutrients as possible” (FaireShare, 2018). They accept all walk-ins, and they also donate hundreds of meals to the surrounding women’s refugee centers, homeless shelters, soup vans and schools.

Store front of FairShare where people in need and volunteers enter everyday to reduce hunger and food waste in Melbourne.

All of the food they make meals with is donated and rescued from grocery stores, grocery suppliers, bakeries and more which helps reduce the amount of food that goes to landfills. It is estimated that in the state of Victoria there is 700,000 tons of food waste every year. By utilizing foods that would otherwise be thrown out due to produce being discolored, marked, or misshaped and breads that did not sell the same day it was baked, FairShare is battling two major issues in one solution. Food waste is a major contributor to climate change as it gathers in landfills it creates a methane bubble. It also wastes resources that it took to grow, gather, and harvest the food (FAO, 2019).

People in every community struggle to be able to put food on the table. I have seen practices in force to assist those in need, but the biggest contributor I found is that it needs to be a societal goal to give back and volunteer, reach out, and help in the solution to reduce food insecurity. I believe that a beneficial way to gear the mindset of others to be more understanding and aware of this is to have education in schools involving food waste and promotion of activism. I believe it is also integral to invest in urban gardens and urban farming education and implementation. If cities allow spaces such as rooftops to be used for farming purposes, it can increase the communities ability to learn how to grow their own food as well as make it more accessible.

Biofilta’s model of rooftop gardening systems in Melbourne, Victoria. Made out of recycled metal and water reservoir system and wicking garden bed that keeps the plants hydrated and stable.

FareShare. (2018). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.fareshare.net.au/about-us/

Lindberg, R. (n.d.). Food insecurity in Australia: Implications for general practitioners. Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2015/november/food-insecurity-in-australia-implications-for-general-practitioners/

What Is Food Insecurity in America? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/

(2019). Food Assistance. Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/food-help

(2019). Key facts on food loss and waste you should know! Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

Rosier, K. (2011, August 4). Food insecurity in Australia: What is it, who experiences it and how can child and family services support families experiencing it? Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/food-insecurity-australia-what-it-who-experiences-it-and-how-can-child

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