South Australian Food Relief Charter and Nutrition Guidelines

Food security is a key determinant of health, with food insecurity linked to obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.

Recent data from the 2018 South Australian Population Health Survey suggests 10.9% of South Australian adults reported food insecurity in the past 12 months. Respondents aged 18-49 years, those living in lower socioeconomic areas, those with lower educational attainment, and those with the lowest income were more likely to report food insecurity (SAPHS data, not yet published).  Research has found that food insecurity is a chronic problem for many people accessing food relief in South Australia, where users are in receipt of food relief for seven years on average.

While enabling easy access to a range of healthy food options supports food relief recipients in making healthy choices, it is acknowledged that the South Australian food relief sector faces a number of challenges including sourcing enough food to meet demand, particularly sourcing enough healthy options.

The Food Security Project, under the Public Health Partnership Authority between the Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) and the Department of Human Services SA (DHS), engaged the University of South Australia to progress two recommendations from the final project report Improving individual and household food security outcomes in South Australia (PDF 1MB).

South Australian Food Relief Charter and the Nutrition Guidelines for the Food Relief Sector in South Australia

As part of implementing the Food Security Project recommendations, the South Australian Food Relief Charter (the Charter) and the Nutrition Guidelines for the Food Relief Sector in South Australia (the Nutrition Guidelines) have been developed to improve the availability of a nutritious food supply to food relief recipients.

The Charter and Nutrition Guidelines are a result of a collaborative co-design process with the food relief sector, DHW and DHS.

The Charter is voluntary and states a shared set of principles related to improved client and community outcomes regarding food relief.  While food relief organisations in South Australia operate according to different business models they can set health food supply goals that are achievable for them.

The Nutrition Guidelines are designed to assist South Australian food relief providers move towards a healthy food supply and provides examples of the type of food across three food categories: green (healthy), amber (less healthy), and red (unhealthy).

Food relief

The provision of food relief represents a valuable opportunity to support vulnerable populations and improve their health outcomes. The food supplied by food relief providers can significantly contribute to the overall dietary intake, diet quality and health of food relief recipients, particularly long-term recipients.

DHW and DHS are committed to continue supporting the good work of the food relief sector.  To support improved access to a nutritious food supply, food relief providers are encouraged to consider:

  1. Nutrition quality and quantity of food available
  2. Placement of food items so that healthy items are more prominent
  3. Promotion of healthy food and drinks
  4. Where relevant, using any pricing of food or drinks (e.g. a handling fee) to increase availability of healthy over unhealthy food products.

Representatives for the South Australian food relief sector have been invited to voluntarily sign the Charter alongside the Minister for Health and Wellbeing and the Minister of Human Services.

DHS Grants SA has recently announced funding for community organisations to support those experiencing food insecurity.