An internship through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA gave exchange student Carole Green from Colorado, USA an insight into vulnerable individuals and families who rely on food relief programs in WA.
Carole undertook her internship over the summer university break with the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) where she worked on a project to improve food relief programs for people in the community.
Carol said that there needs to be a better understanding of how often people in the Western Australian community have to access food relief programs.
“There is a misconception that food relief is only required in an emergency situation-often a one- off event.”
However, Carol has learned that food insecurity can be long-term and that individuals and families often have to rely on food relief over an extended period.
There is also an increasing demand for food relief in WA. “Food relief services find it hard to keep up with increased demand which then means some people’s needs are not being met.”
WACOSS is working with community organisations to develop nutritional food guidelines and improve the coordination between services who provide food relief to those who most need it.
Carole worked on developing guidelines for food relief providers around food safety and nutrition.
“People who do not have enough food go to food relief organisations that offer them basic food, however, often not all the food offered is nutritious.”
“The goal was simply to make nutritional guidelines that organisations can follow when they are providing food.”
While learning about food relief operations, Carole also learned more about the people relying on these services.
“The internship impacted on how I see poverty, homelessness and people seeking help from the not-for-profit sector and community organisations.”
“I learned a lot about the level of food insecurity. I had not realised how many people were affected by food insecurity in Perth and it was heart-breaking to realise this was all going on in our backyard.”
The internship has made Carole more determined to do more to help those in need.
“Through this internship I have become much more aware of how I can help to make a real difference in people’s lives, either through my future career or volunteering.”