I’m Hungry!



I published a post the other day on abundance. Today I want to focus on the lack of it. I’m hungry must be one of the most heart wrenching words for a parent to hear when they literally have nothing with which to feed their children. Some months ago I read a story about a community in Africa. The lead image was a picture of adults digging in the dirt. Around them were children with what looked like hunks of bread in their hands. How wrong I was! The children were eating clay cakes baked for them by their mothers. They had nothing else to give them. It filled their stomachs and eased the hunger pangs. That is just so very, very wrong on so many levels!!! That they have no food.

Food wastage is a hot topic. There is widespread community outrage about how much perfectly good food is dumped when there are so many people who do not have enough. Or like those children in Africa who have none. Yet the dumping continues. Supermarkets, bakeries,  restaurants and other food outlets continue to toss out enormous amounts of perfectly good food on a daily basis. Admittedly some makes its way into hungry mouths.


However there is no process in place to oversee and co-ordinate its systematic collection and distribution. Change management for this kind of initiative to succeed across the board  needs to come from those in positions of power with authority and resourcing to enact and enable processes to be set in place for a sustainable, long term approach. As it stands at the moment here in Australia it is left up to individuals and charitable organisations to do the best they can. They do an outstanding job with very limited resources.

Late last year a whole bunch of celebrity chefs got together here in inner city Adelaide  and cooked lunch for the public solely on food that would normally be dumped. It was done to showcase how out of date food, excess food, food deemed to be ‘unsafe’ for some reason or another, could be used to create nourishing, tasty, wholesome meals.

The hungry are often homeless. Suffer from addictions. Or mental illness. Or a disability. Or domestic violence. In Australia, to our national shame, those of Aboriginal descent outnumber others. Marginalised, disenfranchised, the homeless may not have the ability, knowledge, experience, courage or strength to seek help.



These damning fast facts came from the 2011 Australian census-

  • On any given night around 1 in 200 people are homeless.
  • 42% of those who are homeless are under the age of 25
  • The rate of homelessness is 49 out of every 10,000 (0.5% of the population)
  • 56% of those who are homeless are male, 44% are female
  • 25% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
  • 30% are born overseas

Where are homeless people staying?

  • 39% in “severely” overcrowded dwellings
  • 20% in supported accommodation for the homeless
  • 17% in boarding houses
  • 17% temporarily staying in other households
  • 6% in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out
  • 1% in other temporary lodgings.

 Source:  Homelessness Australia



I’ve been giving this issue a lot of thought recently. It came to the fore through a friend of mine. She is a busy mum of five young children. The youngest was born very prematurely and has only just recently come home from hospital. Just prior to Christmas she read a FaceBook post about homeless people and their lack of food in her local community. It galvanised her into action. With her baby strapped to her body, she cooked and delivered 100 meals and individual cakes to a homeless shelter on Christmas day. Her family does not celebrate Christmas.  However, she chose to support and respect the culture and tradition of this country in which she lives. She continues to cook meals on a weekly basis. Her single original act has mushroomed in three weeks to an involvement of over 3000 with a small group collecting and delivering the donated foods. Today she is beginning the co-ordination of a meal train. It will provide hot meals to the sick elderly who have no family and have recently been discharged from hospital. She already has 80 volunteers who will each take a turn every 80 days to cook and deliver meals. Her reward for her efforts? Heartfelt thanks from those who have food in their belly. She, and others like her,  do not seek or want recognition or publicity for themselves.

When I was doing my research for this post, I came across a local blog. It too is a story of people being galvanised into action to fill a desperate need.  One act of kindness towards a homeless person has led to a group of people helping the Adelaide homeless with care packages.  This is their blog link – Helping Adelaide’s Homeless

In Ottawa, Canada, Gotta find a home  blogs about his work with volunteer teams who ‘walk alongside the poor and homeless in the downtown core’. This street outreach in 2012 connected with 7,672 individuals on the street. Of these 2,735 were young people.  His book  Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People   tells their stories. It is raw. It is inspiring. It is heartfelt. It is moving.

Confessions of a soup van volunteer    in Sydney says ‘ Each night is a privilege to serve. We are privileged to be able to share.’ He has been sharing, serving and caring for over 40 years.

Last, but by no means  least, are those who share stories of their journey, pain and grief through words. In the hope that those doing the hard yards will find comfort and strength in knowing they are not alone. That there is hope. That the emotional rollercoaster ride is  part of the process. That there is recovery and help. This kind of raw sharing is courageous. It too is love in action. One such person is the owner of this blog Making it write.

I tell these stories because they have touched my heart. I know there are many more such stories out there.  It is love in action. Thank you. May they, those with whom they walk, and all the others like them, be abundantly blessed.



©  Raili Tanska

Images Pixabay

17 thoughts on “I’m Hungry!

  1. That’s just here in Australia. I don’t know what the stats are overseas. I expect in some places it will be a lot higher. Even sadder than that some cities that have hosted the Olympics have been known to “sweep the streets” clean of the homeless to hide the reality from visitors.

  2. In the UK, where I live, wastage is mind boggling! It goes from furniture and possessions to vast amounts of food being thrown away – and to MY eyes, it’s all good stuff. But then I grew up in Africa. That opens your eyes to the difference between “valuable” and “disposable”. The standard of living here is really high – and the food legislation, forces supermarkets to HAVE to get rid of perfectly good food at “the sell by” date. And then legislates against other people using it. The way people here, dump possessions, just so they can stay in fashion, or relieve their boredom, or get a thrill from shopping, is concerning. We are driven by consumerism. How will it change? It’s a really selfish place to be, society-wise.

    1. It’s the same here. I didn’t grow up in Africa or in impoverished circumstances. It’s still good stuff to my eyes too. My post was just focusing on the tip of the iceberg even for food. You’re right about food legislation. There is also a misunderstanding by the public about what sell by date really means. A lot of food is still perfectly good often for months if not longer. Especially canned and dried goods. As for furniture – we tried to donate some used furniture to charity. It was deemed unacceptable due to some minor damage. We had no choice but to dump it and watch it being crushed to smithereens. Mattresses? Forget it. Electrical items? No way. Many charity shops here are turning more towards selling unused out of season or bankrupt business items rather than quality used items. What I consider true op shops are few and far between now. Post Christmas there are articles being published on how to get rid of unwanted gifts! The world needs a major change in focus, values and beliefs. I am still optimistic enough to believe it will happen. Can’t be soon enough. May 2016 be a year of changes for the better across the board for all of us 🙂

  3. Thank you for posting a link to my blog Raili.
    This is a really good, informative blog, and while the statistics on homelessness are alarming, I’m impressed by the mum who has managed to rally so much support in her heroic venture, and in so short a time! She’s amazing.
    I, too, am unhappy about the amount of food and useful products we waste in this country. I refuse to buy anything new (apart from food and underwear and such, obviously) if I can get it secondhand. I work in an Oxfam charity shop, and the reason charity shops can’t take large goods which are damaged is because nobody will buy them. Charity shops cannot sell all of their donations, because even now, with public awareness, there are not enough people buying the goods, and too many people still buying only new products. Many of the items we get are brand new – often from cheap chain stores. We can’t even guarantee we’ll sell those items. We recycle everything we possibly can, but it’s not the best option. More people need to purchase used goods, thereby cutting down on over-production of new goods.
    I’m afraid this is one of my pet subjects. I could rant about it all day…

  4. There’s always two sides to everything. That’s why we need a legislated and co-ordinated approach as well as raising community awareness and education. Change management on such a big scale needs to be driven from the top down. And it takes time for the changes to become the new norm. The mum driving the food collection and distribution is also now starting to co-ordinate a meal train for post discharged elderly who have no family supports. She has just been offered a large amount of money towards what she is doing which she is now busy turning into food vouchers. One person, one step at a time, galvanises others into action too 🙂

  5. So true. In the “Western” world (including “Southern” Australia and NZ) we just don’t seem capable of managing surplus. The whole business is so chaotic – particularly the “Best Before” date thing. Yet people who conduct night raids on supermarket garbage bins are, strictly speaking, breaking the law.

    On the other hand, my favourite charity shop will take anything except electrical items, because they lack the means to test them to ensure they’re safe. Fair enough. But one time when I took in clothes, the people there exclaimed, “Oh, they’re all so clean!” I said, “Well, I washed them before I brought them in, and some have hardly been worn.” The response was, “You wouldn’t believe what some people bring in. We have to take the clothes home to wash them, and even after that we give them away.”

    So, charity shops in affluent societies also function as rubbish dumps, it seems.

    1. Yes, we have the same issues here too. Also, people steal from donation bins or use them to sleep in. I guess they are warm and cosy especially in winter. Bin surfing for food is also not uncommon here. I heard people talking about it regularly when I was still working in community mental health. They knew the best times and places to go in order to get the freshest produce without getting caught. Going in pairs was best so one could keep a lookout and help their mate in and out of the bins. How sad that society has sunk to this low level.

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  8. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker
    who was doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this matter here on your web page.

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