Council adopts new policy to address “unacceptable” food insecurity

Council adopts new policy to address “unacceptable” food insecurity
Sean Car

The City of Melbourne will soon publish a new and improved food policy to help support the 32 per cent of people in the municipality who have reported suffering food insecurity.

In what Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece described as a “completely unacceptable situation” for a city as “caring” and “prosperous” as Melbourne, council data shows that 22 per cent of people worry about running out of food.

Further, 19 per cent of people reported skipping meals, 13 per cent reported running out of food, while eight per cent regularly access food relief organisations.

Councillors unanimously endorsed the Food City 2024-2034 policy at the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on June 4, marking the first update to its original “landmark” 2012 food policy in more than a decade.

The new strategy, which will be followed by a two-year action plan, outlines several commitments to deliver, advocate for, and/or partner on that are underpinned by four major priorities:

  • Food justice: good food for all, dignified and equitable access.
  • Healthy food environments and a sustainable food system.
  • Celebrating a thriving, local and diverse food economy.
  • An edible city.

Following community consultation on the draft policy, which took place with the community between February and March this year, the council highlighted four key actions to be either integrated or strengthened in its updated policy:

  • The need to support food producers.
  • The need to extend food education and literacy programs.
  • Reducing or repurposing food waste.
  • Increasing opportunities for community gardens.

In moving the motion on June 4, the council’s health, wellbeing and belonging portfolio lead Cr Dr Olivia Ball said it was “a disgrace that one in three people in this municipality can’t reliably feed themselves.”

Cr Jamal Hakim said that the actions that would flow from the policy would “strengthen food production in our own community.

“More needs to be done, but this is just one piece of the puzzle,” Cr Hakim said, adding that it wasn’t just those who were sleeping rough or the unemployed experiencing food insecurity, but “everyday people” such as students, single mothers, and the elderly.

Cr Reece said the statistics on food insecurity had come as “an enormous shock” and couldn’t be ignored.  

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