By Ruth Limkin
Yesterday I talked a lot about food, or more precisely, the lack thereof.
I had a friendly conversation with a State Parliamentarian, about the work of Nexus Care, a small charity for which I work. We discussed community statistics and anecdotal experiences of our Community Program Manager.
The conversation, and the surprise with which it was received, was a reminder that poverty in our community is often hidden.
In fact, a recent study by QUT discovered that 25% of households in some areas of Brisbane have insufficient access to food. There’s a range of reasons this is so, along with a range of solutions, none of which are simple, and many of which require long-term community development approaches.
Generational patterns can be perpetuated or developed within such households, with the study showing ‘children from food insecure households were at risk of developmental, behavioural and social problems’.
When we develop programs which not only address nutritional poverty, but also help alleviate poverty of the soul, we can empower people to help them change their lives.
Such an approach requires caring people, broad community responses, and generous resources.
For example, we have recently redeveloped our food parcel program. A number of new initiatives not only provide people with healthy food, but also the ideas and tools to begin improved healthy eating habits. Weekly menu suggestions are included, along with recipes based on the components of the food parcel.
Yesterday a client reminded me why we’ve made those changes, and that we still have more to do. A young mum who signed up for the program asked if we had instructions to make porridge, with pictures for each step.
You see, she can’t read. And no-one’s ever taught her how to make porridge. And that’s just as much of a poverty as the fact that she doesn’t have enough to eat.