How this confronting photo revealed an invisible but tragic reality all around us

Many Aussies are now forced to take drastic measures as the cost of living crisis continues to escalate, writes Adam Lucius.

Crowds of people lined up for a charity food service in Melbourne's inner city.
A photo showing people lining up for a charity food services shocked Australians this week. Source: X

You might be wondering why the fruit in the office bowl is vanishing quicker than it ever did before. Or noticed the biscuits that once lasted a week now being replenished daily.

Take a quick look around your workplace. You may be working alongside someone struggling on little or no food as cost-of-living pressures continue to bite hard on the average Australian.

They may be surviving on what they can eat at work or resorting to putting some of it in a bag to take home.

The sad reality is that no longer is the picture of hunger or poverty the domain of those who have fallen on tough times or are out of work or sleeping rough.

Tragically, it's all around us.

This week a shocking photo of people lining up for charity food in Footscray, an inner suburb of Melbourne, went viral on multiple online platforms, with many Aussies commenting that it reflected "the sad new reality of our country".

Long queues waiting for charity food.
Charity food services are regularly seeing long queues of people. Source: Reaching Out In The Inner West Of Melbourne

Foodbank Australia provides food and groceries for more than 600 charities and school programs to distribute to hungry Australians each day.

It feeds around a million of us every month.

And right now, their frontline workers are reporting that a new breed is seeking assistance.

"There's been a real emergence of people with dual incomes or multiple incomes coming to us," Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey AM told Yahoo News Australia.

"There will be two working adults during the day and quite often they'll be taking on part-time employment in the evening. The simple reality is the household expenses once covered by one or two incomes now need two and a half to three incomes."

Alarmingly, 77 per cent of food-insecure households are experiencing these challenges for the first time. Many are limiting their meals to ensure their children don’t go hungry.

And, just as concerning, younger people on mid to high incomes are among the most vulnerable.

It is so disappointing to see this in Australia, where we've always considered ourselves to be a lucky country bursting with opportunity and abundance.

Now, people are being forced into resorting to drastic tactics, such as only eating food provided by their employer, just to make ends meet.

"People are trying to take every advantage they can of food available in the workplace," Casey said.

Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey (left), Foodbank volunteers distributing food (right).
Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey says there is a confronting reason why your office fruit bowl may be emptier than usual. Source: Supplied

"We're increasingly hearing stories from tea rooms and coffee rooms across Australia where the complimentary fruit bowl is bare at the end of the day instead of the end of the week. People are choosing to have breakfast at work because they haven’t got enough food at home.

"If we scratch under the surface, the faces of hunger, poverty and inequality are staring right at us.

"The reality is hunger in Australia is being experienced by people living in our own streets."

And the situation is predicted to get worse before it gets better.

Foodbank, which relies heavily on donations and a volunteer workforce, is bracing for a greater reliance on its services as everyday costs continue to soar.

Casey said: "We are hugely concerned by the economic picture that is being painted. We know food and grocery costs, energy costs and housing costs are continuing to increase".

"And we know that it is going to take years, not months, to recover from the economic shock that is facing many across our communities at the moment. The challenge for Foodbank is to ensure we have enough healthy, culturally appropriate, safe, nutritious food to be able to respond to this growing demand.

"There is no shame in asking for food relief. It is to be commended if you put your hand up and ask for help."

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