Food insecurity in Brisbane : the single mother’s struggle

Savage, Bernadette (2009) Food insecurity in Brisbane : the single mother’s struggle. In Agri-Food XVI- the Annual meeting of the Agri-food Research Network, 25-27 November 2009, University of Auckland, Auckland. (Unpublished)

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Using a feminist reflexive approach this paper reports on interviews with single mother’s in the Brisbane area about their experiences with food shopping and household food security. Preliminary findings suggest that most experience significant stress around the amount of money they have available for food. As the price of food and other costs of living increase, the only budget item that is flexible – groceries - is squeezed tighter. All women expressed a reluctance to ask for help from strangers at agencies instead relying on the support of family and friends to keep them food secure. Sometimes family and friends had no spare resources to help or were not aware of the extent their friend or relative might be struggling. The increased risks of poverty and food insecurity mean many go without as feeding the children takes precedence. The quality of their diets is variable with many reporting on aiming for quantity rather than being concerned with nutritional balance. Exhaustion and stress from being over-committed doing three roles, mother, father and housekeeper was self-identified as a key factor leading to mental health conditions such as depression, burnout and break down. Female single parent households are vulnerable to reducing welfare benefits as children grow or child support changes. Current policy forces single parents out to work but many can only manage part-time work for lower wages and are barely able to cope with this extra burden often resenting the reduction in benefits it brings. Public perceptions, derision and the notions of choice surrounding single parenting leave the cohort divided and silent for fear of reprisals. In my investigation issues arise about welfare policy that keep benefits low and workplace patriarchal power that can contribute to systemic poverty and the widening of the gender gap in poverty. So far analysis suggests a better support system around community food security including some hands on home help services, nutritional information, cooking classes, community gardening and other social capital building activities are needed for these women in order to avoid long-term health problems and help them better care for the next generation.

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ID Code: 32047
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Food Security, Single Parents
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > DEMOGRAPHY (160300)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology (160808)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health and Community Services (111708)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Technology, Information and Library Services
Current > Research Centres > High Performance Computing and Research Support
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Bernadette Savage
Deposited On: 04 May 2010 00:34
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2011 14:57

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