Organisational barriers to food literacy in the charitable food sector in ACT and WA



Background/Aims: The charitable food sector plays a role in food provision to food insecure Australians, yet staff and volunteers have limited food literacy. Organisational barriers to delivering food literacy to recipients of food relief were explored in ACT and WA. Methods: Cross-sectional study design, used an online questionnaire to survey food literacy needs of charitable organisations in WA (n=179) and ACT (n=54); 18% and 44% responded respectively. Results: The primary service offered in WA (n=13, 41%) and ACT (n=14, 61%) was welfare/homeless services; emergency food parcels were the most common food service offered in WA (n=13, 41%) and ACT (n=11, 50%), followed by prepared foods in WA (n=14, 19%) and ACT (n=12, 50% ). Food literacy classes were not prioritised in WA (31%, n=10) or ACT (17%, n=4). Organisational barriers to food literacy were consistent across regions: lack of staff/volunteer knowledge, cooking skills; motivation; time constraints; food wastage/access/cost; kitchen access/equipment resources. Priority training areas identified for staff and volunteers were: budgeting, basic nutrition, and food safety in both regions. Conclusions: ACT offered more prepared meals and less food literacy classes when compared to WA. Both regions identified a need to prioritise food literacy to food insecure Australians. To achieve this, organisational policy that supports professional development for staff and volunteers and builds partnerships with key stakeholders which include food rescue organisations is required. Funding source(s): Edith Cowan University Collaborative Enhancement Scheme, University of Canberra Health Research Institute Grant Program Keywords: Poverty; Community development/engagement, capacity building, partnerships


Ros Sambell

Edith Cowan University

Ms Sambell is a registered Public Health Nutritionist (PHN) with the Nutrition Society of Australia, co-lead Jamie’s Ministry of Food Program at Edith Cowan University (ECU), Lecturer in Nutrition and Public Health and Community Nutrition. Previously, Course Coordinator of the Master of Public Health, ECU . Ms Sambell has had a longstanding involvement with Nutrition Australia, government and the community sector for the last 25 years. As a PHN Ms Sambell is aware of the healthcare issues, including nutritional impact associated with current and projected population demographics, including the influence of food environment on health. She has expertise in community intervention design and development to improve population health outcomes and is an advocate for improving food provision across the life span. Ms Sambell believes a collective approach to leadership development alongside marketing and labelling regulation, taxes, pricing and agricultural policy will influence foods grown, purchased and consumed.