MANY Northern Grampians Shire residents are concerned about where their next meal is coming from, a new report says.
The Victorian Agency for Health Information's Challenges to Healthy Eating - Food Insecurity in Victoria report said adults who lived in the Northern Grampians shire were more likely than those living in other parts of the state to have run out of food and could not afford to buy more at least once in the previous 12 months.
The report also states 32 per cent of parents who lived in the Northern Grampians shire were more likely to have relied on unhealthy, low-cost food for their children as a strategy to avoid running out of money to buy food.
Northern Grampians shire residents were above the statewide average of those who worried about food insecurity with hunger. They were also higher than the state average of those concerned about access to a variety of healthy food and the right quality.
Stawell Inter-church Council's Mary-Rita Thomas said she "wasn't surprised" about the findings.
"Our welfare section helped 280 households - which means 672 individuals were supported in some way - in the last financial year," she said.
"We had 1075 visits to the cottage. Of those, 98 were people who had never visited the cottage before.
"We issued 751 grocery shopping vouchers totalling $21,115 in the 12-month period and gave out 1031 food parcels to residents in Stawell.
"Our figures align with the findings of the report and you can see why I'm not surprised at all."
Stawell Neighbourhood House co-ordinator Christine Dearman said residents needed more support to learn about healthy eating.
"We have programs to help people get by with our SecondBite program," she said.
"I believe there is a lack of knowledge about fresh fruit and vegetables and how to cook cheap, healthy meals.
"Our lives have become so busy - we're always looking for that next convenient meal."
Mrs Dearman said she believed the cost of living was impacting residents' ability to make healthy choices.
"The price of food also makes a huge impact on household budgets and families are often looking for cheaper options which are not necessarily the healthier options," she said.
Data for Ararat Rural City residents was not significantly different to the estimate for Victoria and Horsham Rural City ranked similar.
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