Charity taking the bite out of Tasmanian food insecurity

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Food insecurity is an issue that is often under the radar, but SecondBite are changing the way Tasmanians see food.

With all the food visible at the supermarket, it would be tempting to say food insecurity does not exist in Tasmania, but for the people at SecondBite, food insecurity across the state is very much a reality.

The charity organisation, which has been running in Tasmania since 2009, collects surplus food from farm gates and supermarkets across the state and redistributes it to social service agencies, including domestic violence shelters and the Salvation Army.

SecondBite state manager Aaron Kropf said food insecurity is often the result of a culture of poor nutrition.

“If you have a look at some of the vegetables we have here today, people are trying to buy them. That’s the quality of food that’s being donated. The apples are only here because their too big for market. Consumer habits are a massive problem in regard to food wastage.” 

“We’ve seen kids in these areas who have never seen a carrot. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. They don’t know fresh fruit and vegetables because it’s not part of their general diet.”

Mr Kropf said that the problem was multifaceted, with lack of education, cultural attitudes and affordability all contributing to people not accessing healthy food.

Mr Kropf said that some areas in Tasmania are “food deserts” or "fresh food black spots" because of the lack of readily available fresh food.

“You’d think that with Tasmania as such a great growing region that the amount of food deserts would be minimised, but there are quite a few, and it usually affects those lower socio-economic areas,” he said.

SecondBite's Food Program development manager Pat Burton said between five and ten per cent of Australians are food insecure.

"We’re finding a high need for food in a number of areas throughout Tasmania," he said. ”The food that is collected is high quality, but turned away from supermarket shelves because of its appearance."

Alongside their work in redistributing fresh produce, SecondBite aims to address all the causes of food insecurity, and that work starts with education.

SecondBite work with both primary schools and the prison system to spread knowledge of good nutrition and to change community attitudes towards healthy eating for the better.

“We’ve got a relationship with the Tasmanian Prison Service where we have a community garden in the prison, which to date has realised over 10 tonne of product,” Mr Burton said.

“We’re not just looking at food redistribution, but at the determinants of food insecurity.”

Here at AGFEST, they’re just trying to spread the message.

“We’ve had some great responses here at AGFEST,” Mr Burton said.

“A lot of people have asked what we do and how we do it and given us some donations. But awareness is what it’s all about, trying to bring to light some of these issues with food security.”

To find out more about the work of SecondBite and the broader issue of food security, visit www.secondbite.org