Food security is an internationally recognised term. It can be described as access by all people at all times to sufficient food for an active and healthy life. Research has shown that people living in remote locations are more at risk of food insecurity and that it can impact on their nutritional status.
This survey was designed by the NIHRACS Dietitian with the goal of obtaining information about food security on Norfolk Island, focussing on the past 12 months. The survey was released early in April 2021 and was available for completion until early May.
115 people responded to the survey. Given that each respondent was representing a household, the results are likely to provide a good representation of the community. Twenty nine per cent of respondents said they had children or young people in their household. Seven per cent (8 respondents) indicated they were affected by food insecurity, based on the slightly modified question used in Australian food insecurity research. Another 2.6% (3 respondents) were unsure if “In the last 12 months was there any time you or anyone in your household did not have enough food or did not have enough money to buy adequate food?” This figure is slightly above the average Australian food insecurity reported rate of 5%.
A series of questions asked about obtaining to core food groups, these being breads, cereals, rice and pasta; fruit; vegetables; meat, chicken, fish, eggs; legumes and dairy foods. The results indicate that more than half of the respondents had trouble obtaining all core food groups except meat, fish, chicken and eggs and legumes. This finding could indicate potential nutritional concerns for the community.
Respondents provided lots of comments with some common threads being: shipping and freight issues; scarcity of and high demand for local supplies of fruit and vegetables; lack of core foods at times at the supermarkets; difficulties in meeting special dietary requirements, eg gluten free; high cost of food that has been airfreighted.
One of the goals of this survey was to explore what strategies people used to ensure their household does not run out of core foods. 106 respondents answered this question. The common threads from these responses are: growing own vegetables and fruit, having chooks for eggs; buying in bulk and storing, planning ahead; online buying, though most commented on the inconsistency of delivery; bringing back supplies when going off island or asking others to bring over or send food items by mail; making the most of what is available; going early to the weekend markets and visiting roadside stalls; sharing with family and friends.
This survey provides evidence of food insecurity issues on the Island in the last 12 months. It is of concern that a high proportion of people indicated they had trouble obtaining the majority of core food groups. These foods are fundamental to providing adequate nutrition for all members of the community. If these healthy foods are being substituted for by less healthy foods, there is a risk not only of inadequate intake of essential nutrients but also unhealthy habits forming that can lead to chronic health conditions.
A report on the survey results has been provided to the NI Administrator’s office for consideration with a recommendation that core food supply to the community be prioritised in any future food supply planning. Many thanks to everyone who responded to the survey, your participation is much appreciated.