$31 Woolworths receipt exposes grim dilemma for Aussies: 'A joke'

As the cost of living crisis worsens, is the health of Australians now at risk?

With the prices of groceries going up, it's no secret that more and more people are struggling to afford a nutritious diet. So what needs to be done about it?

Sarah O'Connor is just one of many who was shocked to find what $31 got her at Woolworths. Hoping to get herself some "healthy" and "nutritious" food, she bought six items, only to realise how unsustainable the price was during the cost-of-living crisis.

A Queensland woman is shocked what $31 got her at Woolworths, saying its expensive to eat healthy foods. Source: TikTok
A Queensland woman is shocked what $31 got her at Woolworths, saying it is expensive to eat healthy foods. Source: TikTok

"No wonder people like myself go to Maccas or wherever to eat. It's literally a joke," the Queensland woman said in her TikTok video last week.

She bought salmon — which was $18 — tomatoes, rice, broccolini, snow peas and an avocado. "For some people $31 is an hour of work... to eat one meal," she said in the comments.

In Australia, the national minimum wage is $23.23 per hour or $882.80 per week as of July 1, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman. Casual employees will also get at least a 25 per cent casual loading.

McDonald's says it is committed to value amid the cost-of-living crisis, offering items such as hamburgers for just $2, while it continuously offers cheaper meal deals to customers using its app.

'Eating healthy is so expensive'

Others agreed with how "insane" Sarah's small purchase was for the price she paid, with one person also adding that they paid "$10 for bread and milk" the other day.

"Eating healthy is so expensive unless you cook bulk stir-fry and eat the same thing everyday for a week," someone said in the comments.

"It’s ridiculous!! I don’t even earn $31 in one hour," another said. "I’d rather buy a cheap s***ty meal from a fast-food chain than run my bank account dry just to literally eat."

Increased cost of living top reason for food insecurity

Food is the main non-housing expense driving increased inflation, with the cost of food and groceries being the top cause for households — especially with children — not getting enough food, compromising on nutrition and gaining disrupted eating patterns, according to the Foodbank Hunger Report 2022.

In June of this year, the organisation — which is the largest hunger relief charity in Australia — received 128,000 calls for assistance, which was a "particularly bad month" with numbers "only getting worse", according to Foodbank WA CEO Kate O'Hara.

A photo of a Foodbank Australia report into which shows 36 per cent of households were moderately food insecure in 2022, compared to 26 per cent in 2021. And that 67 per cent of households were severely food insecure in 2022, compared to 11 per cent in 2021.
Source: Foodbank Australia 2022 report.

What can be done about it?

Besides recommending Australians look into budget-friendly healthy meals — which the organisation provides programs about — Ms O'Hara said there were "two really big things that need to be looked at by all states and the federal government".

"On a federal level, if you gave a tax relief to organisations sending quality food — that may not be the prettiest looking — back into a food relief network like Foodbank, OzHarvest, it would make it worthwhile," she told Yahoo News Australia.

"Because those people in manufacturing and production and farmers don't often have enough human resources to move foods."

While on a state level, Ms O'Hara said it was about "school-support" as "children are the future".

"Across the nation there is not a consistent funding call to school breakfast programs," she said. "In WA we have an established one for 26 years. We're seeing that through running a breakfast program, that every child was going in for a school breakfast and the parents were bringing in siblings too.

She believes school lunches also need to be funded as another "enormous pathway to those in need".

"At the moment teachers personally, for their most in need students, are buying them and their families food," she said. "How long can we ask those workers to continue doing this without recognising it? And that's a truth across all states."

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