ANYONE who doubts that children in Orange regularly go without meals should volunteer with one of the charity food vans which deliver food to families doing it tough in this affluent city.
A national study by Anglicare Australia, which is active in Orange, found that in families relying on their welfare support children regularly miss meals.
And it may not be just one meal a day these kids go without. Anglicare found that in the worst cases children are missing an entire day’s meals.
Not surprisingly, the parents of these children reported that they go without food frequently to try and ensure their children don’t miss out.
This degree of poverty is not confined to a small number of Australian families. Anglicare supports around 45,000 households nationwide and welfare arms of other churches do similar work so the true number is undoubtedly huge.
In Orange, just one example of this poverty trap can be seen in the fortnightly food van run by St Vincent de Paul. Twice in the off-pension week of the fortnight the Vinnies van does an evening run to half a dozen locations where families are doing it tough.
Volunteers give away sandwiches, fruit and drinks to families whose pantries are bare.
Without this aid many children in Orange would go hungry even more often, they would miss more schooling because they would not have a lunch to take and they would suffer more from the effects of malnutrition.
Anglicare’s national survey comes at a time when the federal government is reviewing the level of support provided by various pensions and payments, particularly Newstart which covers the transition from unemployment back into work.
There are many factors which will affect parents’ ability to put food on the table but whatever the cause of household poverty we cannot allow children to continue to suffer the consequences.