It is unilaterally agreed by food providers, distributors and community stakeholders involved in the development of this Strategy that all Tasmanians should be food secure, and that we should endeavour to plan, wherever possible, to create connected systems that support food security.
Food security, as defined by the Committee on World Food Security, is:
- When all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilisation and stability.4
At its simplest, this means the availability of food and individuals’ ability to access it.
The research also shows that food insecurity is rarely an emergency; it is much more likely to be chronic over a longer period.
Anecdotal reports from food relief providers and distributors suggest this is no different in Tasmania.
During the height of COVID-19 in 2020, the demand for food relief rose. A survey conducted by the University of Tasmania found that in May 2020 almost 26 per cent of Tasmanians experienced food insecurity to some extent because of the pandemic, with 14 per cent of survey respondents experiencing severe levels of food insecurity.5/6
This research was consistent with a reported spike in demand for emergency food relief (EFR) by frontline community service organisations, particularly during lockdowns.
This survey was repeated again in September 2020 and May 2021 and noted that while Tasmanians experiencing food insecurity had decreased to 18 per cent respectively but, had not reduced to pre-pandemic levels of six per cent, indicating the pandemic has long-lasting impacts on food security.7
The research indicates that food insecure households coped by eating less food and eating lower quality food, and only five per cent of food insecure respondents accessed emergency food relief distributors, indicating community food solutions to food insecurity remain a priority.8
In the context of food security, the need to increase the sustainability of Tasmania’s food relief system to respond to events like the pandemic was highlighted by the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC).
National Research indicated that in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity was a growing problem. Demand for emergency food across Australia has increased by 22 per cent in the preceding 12 months.9
PESRAC was established by the Tasmanian Government to support the State’s short to medium, and longer-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. PESRAC’s interim report released in July 2020 noted that the long-term nature of recovery makes continual ‘emergency food relief ’ unsustainable, and efforts to alleviate food relief should be prioritised in areas of high need.
The long-term nature of recovery makes continual 'emergency food relief' unsustainable. One element of building community resilience is to shift from 'emergency food relief' to community-based food security models where the need is the greatest. Such a transition would need to be undertaken while maintaining a demand-based level of emergency food relief in the interim.
PESRAC ultimately recommended that:
- The State Government should plan and transition from increased emergency food relief provision towards a community-based and school-based food security models.
In its Final Report, PESRAC expanded its findings, noting that:
The State Government should ensure that the Food Security Strategy currently being prepared:
- Expands on recent trials of school lunch provision to include greater school and community provision;
- Adopts a place-based approach to community food security models and not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach;
- Includes strong links to local agricultural and hospitality businesses including training opportunities for program participants; and
- Is scaleable in design so that any potential increase in demand for emergency food relief can be managed in a rapid and effective manner.
The development of this Strategy will pave a way forward to increase the food security of Tasmanians in need, in consultation with key food relief providers and distributors in Tasmania.
Central to this Strategy is the development of an Action Plan, in close consultation with Government and community partners, to improve opportunities for integrated support, the development of community solutions and a greater understanding of local food relief and food security. This Strategy and Action Plan is supported by the Tasmanian Government’s ongoing policies and programs outlined in the Appendix as well as recent commitments to:
- Deliver $3 million in emergency food relief and food security to help the most vulnerable;
- Extend the School Lunch Program pilot to 30 schools, with a $1.4 million investment;
- Increase funding to $60,000 per year each, to Gran’s Van, Loui’s Van and Mission Beat, for three years; and
- Work in partnership with Volunteering Tasmania to build a Youth Volunteer Army, to encourage a new generation of life-long volunteers, on top of our investments to further support the re-engagement of volunteers and re-connect past volunteers.