Food insecurity for children Essay Example


The idea that many children in Australia may not be having adequate access to sufficient food in order to lead an active and healthy life has started to be considered a serious nutritional and public health issue (Farmar-Bowers et al. 2013). Notably, food insecurity is linked to having limited resources in the country at a level that is likely to be slightly over five percent of the general population and mush higher among those groups that are at risk such as children. Children from families that come from remote areas, homeless people, indigenous people, drug using families, insecure and low income families have been singled out as the most vulnerable to the issue of food insecurity in the country. At the same time, children may find themselves in such conditions due to inability of single parents to provide sufficient food for them, due to high rate of unemployment in a community, those from some of the indigenous people or families, some immigrants and issues of disability.

The ready access to affordable and safe supply of food is one of the basic human rights under several covenants of the international law as identified in the World Food Summit in Rome (1–4) in 1996 (Biesalski et al. 2017). Although there have been several versions of the definition of food security, it would be important to note that this term can be considered at three key levels which include domestic, local, and global levels. While the definitions of “food security” vary from one discipline to another, professionals in the nutritional fields have defined this term as people’s access to sufficient food for healthy and active life at all times. Critically to note is that at a minimum, food security involves the ready availability of nutritionally safe and adequate foods as well as having assured ability in acquiring foods in ways that are socially acceptable, without having to for instance resort to emergency supply of food, stealing, scavenging, and any other coping strategy . in this paper, food insecurity for children have been discussed by highlighting two strategies of interventions and emphasizing on one of them as the most appropriate.

Food Insecurity as a Public Health Nutrition Problem

Apparently, food insecurity in children causes high cost to not only individuals and families but also to the society as a whole in different ways such as the reduction of mental, physical, and social health as well as wellbeing (Caraher & Coveney 2016). Current studies, policy directions and practice have indicated clearly that there is need for inter-sectorial, comprehensive and integrated strategies which are based on the community responses with the support of national and state funding and policy directions. Notably, food insecurity among children and public health cannot be separated. In Australia, it is estimated that close to four percent of children may not be accessing sufficient, nutritious and safe food. As is the case to adults, food insecurity among children is one of the precursors and also by-products of different health issues and poverty.

Connectively, sick Children, who are as well food insecure, may be forced to skip meals, experience stress and take cheap food that may not be nutritious for their bodies. The recovery process of such children is highly hampered. On this note, healthcare professionals have a critical role to play in not only identifying the backgrounds of such children but also facilitating short term interventions. Importantly, there is need to provide effective links between health and welfare services that are required in addressing patients’ financial, material, as well as environmental barriers to food security.

Strategies to Address Food Insecurity on Children

As noted above there are different strategies that are geared towards addressing food insecurity that not only affects children but the entire society and families. One of such strategies has been “welfare quarantining”. Under the welfare “quarantining,” program, the Australian federal government segregates welfare payments such that specific portion of the amount is only used for purchasing food (Huntley 2008). In many of the nongovernmental submissions’ arguments to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, although the objective of the policy is to ensure that the increase to access of food among families in the indigenous peoples, the implementation of the policy has in itself hampered the same food access.

In the recent report on the effectiveness of the policy, it was found that under the welfare quarantining system, the purchasing of food can only take place from the stores that have been approved by the government. In this way, many families and communities are forced to travel long distances in order to get the food. At the same time, studies have shown that the implementation of the program has led to shutting down of small community stores due to limited revenue since their customers have been redirected to government approved stores.

In addition, the high amount of bureaucracy and administrative processes required in the implementation of the program has resulted into errors and mistakes such as having limited store vouchers that are available at Centrelink offices, which is the agency under federal government responsible for offering services as well as unemployment benefits to low-income people in Australia (Zobel 2016). In this case, many people have not been able to get vouchers that would necessitate buying of food while others have been receiving vouchers that are valued at lower charges than they ate entitled to. The program has as well been criticized for making indigenous and poor folks involve to utilize their ability in determining their own sustenance. In this program, people encounter significant challenges and difficulties in their attempt to access government money in paying for instance their repairs to vehicles that are needed for hunting or even for hunting supplies (Shogren 2016). Connectively, such occurrences can only hinder individuals’ ability to make use of their land for food as well as for accessing traditional foods.

Another strategy that has been put in place to address food insecurity is the “Close the Gap campaign” (Haden 2009).. The strategy was started by former Prime Minister Rudd in the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generation where he established several targets with the aim of reducing the social and economic gaps between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians, but with more emphasis on the gap in both child and infant mortality rates (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012). The strategy by the former prime minister has since been termed as “Close the Gap” and become part of the approaches used by the federal government in addressing issues faced by poor and indigenous communities. Basically, the strategy has been instrumental emphasizing the need to address food insecurity by ensuring social, economic, health factors are considered. In this way, this paper has recommended the use of Close the Gap Campaign in tackling the issue of food insecurity in children.

Proposed Strategy: Close the Gap Campaign

In this strategy, the Close the Gap campaign for equity in heath aims at eliminating health inequalities in the most vulnerable communities such as the ATSI. Apparently, the campaign has for the last few years introduced various initiatives in order to enhance promotion of good nutrition as well as healthy eating practices. The focus is mostly on the most remote regions in Australia. Based on the initiatives promoted by the campaign, health professionals can intervene in various ways.

Notably, it is important to emphasize that although the programs have been positively impacting the lives of thousands of children and their families, the campaign has as well attracted is fair share of criticism (Stein 2015). For example, the objective of Close the Gap is to ensure that inequalities and inequities are reduced in the Australian society, the government has not realized that in order to attain this objective, there is need to come up with programs that are reflecting an understanding that access to the same level of services as well as facilities is required among all Australians.

On this basis, public health practitioners under different disciplines such as dieticians have a critical role to play in this strategy. For example, nutritionists can help in preventing and ameliorating food insecurity by participating in national and local level advocacy including sensitizing and empowering the local community members on how to eat healthy.


In reference to the above discussion, it is clear that public health practitioners should join other stakeholders in addressing the food insecurity in children. Partnering with government agencies and other organizations can go a long way in helping families not only access food but also achieve “better health, better food, better living”.


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