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Volunteers Serving Food

Food Insecurity

The Full Story

Attributed to Australian Institute of Family Studies - Australian Government - Food Insecurity in Australia

Food insecurity is a concern as it can impact negatively upon outcomes for the community in the short and long-term - including children's academic ability, employment and health issues.

Food security is broadly defined as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", food insecurity exists "whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain" (Radimer, 2002). There are three key components of food security (World Health Organization, 2011):

  1. Food access: the capacity to acquire and consume a nutritious diet, including:

    • the ability to buy and transport food;

    • home storage, preparation and cooking facilities;

    • knowledge and skills to make appropriate choices;

    • and time and mobility to shop for and prepare food.

  2. Food availability: the supply of food within a community affecting food security of individuals, households or an entire population, specifically:

    • location of food outlets;

    • availability of food within stores; and

    • price, quality and variety of available food (Nolan, Rickard-Bell, Mohsin, & Williams, 2006).

  3. Food use: the appropriate use of food based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care.


There are three different "levels" of food security (based upon Burns, 2004):

  • secure;

  • insecure but without hunger - where there may be anxiety or uncertainty about access to food or inappropriate use of food (i.e., poor nutritional quality) but regular consumption of food occurs; and

  • insecure with extreme hunger - where meals are often missed or inadequate (Burns, 2004).


According to the United Nations, food security is a right for all people

How can the Community help, experiencing food insecurity?

Measures to address food security include short, medium or long-term solutions. Some services can directly assist families in the short-term by providing food parcels, food vouchers and/or meals. Most services will have some information available about local services that can provide these services.  As many services will already be providing short-term support, the following practice considerations focus upon medium and long-term measures for supporting families who experience food insecurity. Policy measures are also considered.


  • Nutritional education is often poor amongst disadvantaged populations (Burns, 2004) and as such whilst the quantity of food supplies may be adequate in these households, their quality may be poor and fail to meet the nutritional needs of family members, particularly children.

  • Simple techniques like planning meals in advance and writing a shopping list with only required ingredients help to keep food costs lower and ensure value for money. Planning meals ahead also helps to reduce dependency on expensive and often unhealthy take-away meals.

  • Lack of familiarity with food preparation and/or ingredients may be a deterrent to the preparation of fresh healthy meals. Basic food preparation techniques and a guided shopping exercise can help to reduce these barriers and improve knowledge and confidence in food preparation.



Longer term support strategy

A range of services and resources in the local community can be useful to families experiencing food insecurity. 

  • community gardens:  where community members may grow plants and/or vegetables and fruit. Community garden projects can be a cost effective and enjoyable way for the community to acquire fresh food;

  • financial counselling or other services: may help to address long term issues which play a major role in food insecurity; and

  • lists of local markets or lower cost retail options for food purchasing: may help the community to get better value out of their food budget.

Parent and Child at the Supermarket

How does the RCSS provide food insecurity support

The RCSS prefers to provide support through our rural businesses where we provide food via a self-shop service (similar to a voucher) where we give the rural business credit, that is only used for essentials such as hygiene, care, and food. As the RCSS is a charity that is based on community philanthropy, our philosophy is not to bring food boxes into rural towns to sell to the vulnerable and make money to give back to the vulnerable.    This we understand in rural areas may affect our rural businesses, unless there is a major crisis or need, we are here to keep the support in the rural towns and also help the most vulnerable through the core roots of their crisis. In addition, by providing a person the ability to continue to shop and be self-efficient in choosing themselves, it maintains a sense of dignity and value. Its truly about the human experience and the need to stay connected to the world they belong to in isolated rural regions. If the vulnerable are unable to shop, the RCSS still maintains the rural business support and delivers the care packages to the person in need, not as a wholesale wharehouse for distributing food.

Our true hearts are beating with rural connections, if rural towns continue to obtain external charity food boxes as a means of selling and making money, it only encourages long term reliance on assistance and services.  This takes away not only the responsibility and the need to support the core financial crisis, it also places strain on the rural businesses. The service no longer becomes a charitable cause, it becomes another supermarket run by a charity, and causes more harm on rural businesses, employment and the true meaning of food insecurity. Our aim is to support the vulnerable through collaboration with rural businesses, which keeps our rural towns thriving and in employment.  This means that if food boxes are delivered to our vulnerable it is for assisting them with their crisis and finances.  It is about providing the food boxes to our most vulnerable in need without taking their vital original crisis of funding to support food security.

Let’s Work Together to alleviate food insecurity

Get in touch if you require food relief  - Care package request (RURAL SUPPORT ONLY)

Support will be on its way!

Care packages include essential items such as food, hygiene, Manchester etc.  RCSS, through businesses, will not provide any items such as cigarettes, alcohol or non-essential goods.

RCSS are proud members of the Australian Institute of Food Safety 

Once approved, you can have access to a care package once every 12 weeks. When requests are made, the RCSS will also provide you with information as to where you can purchase foods that have a discount at a supermarket or for a lower cost.  RCSS is able to also discuss your budget and make appropriate referrals or provide you with brochures.    This website also has many links and great self help support tools.