Food insecurity – who is affected?

As if we don’t have enough stress in our lives, now there’s a new one – food stress. But what’s the cause and who is suffering from it?

PD*22977613One of the key topics for discussion at a national conference being held in Dunedin next week (1-3 September) by Dietitians New Zealand will be food security.

Professor John Coveney, Associate Dean at Flinders University, will be presenting results from his research in Adelaide, which looked at cost, availability and affordability of a healthy food basket.

The food basket in this study cost 9% of income for high-income families and between 28 and 34% for households on a low income.

And there’s nothing to suggest the situation is any different this side of the Tasman. Research carried out in Wellington and Dunedin, to be presented at the conference by Claire Smith, a nutritionist and PhD candidate at Otago University, found that over three quarters of low income households experienced some level of food insecurity over the last year.

Food is both abundant and relatively equal in terms of quality, cost and availability across New Zealand. But those on tight budgets face spending far more of their income to feed themselves.

The Science Media Centre has invited Professor John Coveney and Claire Smith to present the results of their latest research in an ONLINE MEDIA BRIEFING in advance of the conference, on Tuesday 31 August at 11am NZT.

Click below to listen to the briefing audio:

Part I
Part II


Professor John Coveney: John is the associate Dean at the School of Medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide. His research interests include the politics of food, food security and health promotion. This involves an examination of the social and cultural determinants of food choice and distribution at the level of the family and the community, including efforts to change eating habits. His research in this area will be presented at the

His research interest also concern food regulation and legislation, new food technologies, and national and international food policy. Methodologically, research combining quantitative and qualitative forms of inquiry is of interest.

Claire Smith: Claire Smith will complete her PhD at the University of Otago this year. She is looking at aspects of food security, socioeconomic status and the family food environment. Previous to this she has worked as a nutritionist on the Children’s Nutrition Survey at Otago University Zealand and also as a nutritionist for a large supermarket chain in England.