Cut to food grant bites

AN Atwell family is one of many calling for the Federal Government to scrap plans to cut a grant that helps pay for specialist food.

Maria Contera has two children, aged 10 and four, with a condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU).

Those with PKU cannot tolerate normal levels of protein and currently qualify for grants of $256 a month towards specialised foods.

But the Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM) grants will cease on December 31 under the new Federal Budget.

Ms Contera�s children can tolerate only 8g of protein a day.

�This means about 2-3g of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is about a third of a glass of milk,� Ms Contera said.

She left a full-time role to work two days a week so she had time to prepare meals for her children.

�It�s going to impact us hugely, particularly as they get older,� she said.

Leda resident Andrew McEachan spends $250 a month on medically-created low-protein food, which for years has been fully covered by a Federal Government grant.

He must consume exactly 25g of protein each day and he also spends his own money on normal supermarket foods separate to the grant because specialised foods are only available online.

When he does not adhere to a low protein diet he loses concentration and becomes irritable.

Long-term problems include brain damage, cancer and death.

The grants were introduced in 2001 and Senator Michaelia Cash this week defended the decision to scrap the grants, saying there had been improvements to the cost of foods and medicines since 2001.

�The Metabolic Dietary Disorders Association�s dietary handbook points out that regular supermarket items like cornflour to replace wheat flour or rice milk instead of diary milk can be used by people managing a protein disorder,� she said.