Fam­i­lies strug­gle to pay for food

Central Leader - - News - By Lisa Sloan

Stock­ing the pantry with ba­sic food items such as meat, cheese and bread used to be taken for granted.

But now the weekly gro­cery shop is putting a strain on the pocket.

Food costs have risen 8.2 per­cent in the past year.

Dairy in par­tic­u­lar has sky­rock­eted with but­ter up more than 80 per­cent, and cheese up by al­most 62 per­cent on last year.

Many fam­i­lies are now turn­ing to so­cial ser­vices to keep their heads above wa­ter, and food banks are strug­gling to meet de­mand.

The Auck­land City Mis­sion re­ports a 50 per­cent in­crease in cus­tomers re­quir­ing food parcels, while the Sal­va­tion Army says de­mand is up by 20 per­cent.

Royal Oak Sal­va­tion Army com­mu­nity min­istry man­ager Caryn Daly says the food price hike has hit fam­i­lies hard.

“Peo­ple are re­ally strug­gling and it’s not just the peo­ple who were strug­gling be­fore,” she says.

“We are all liv­ing it, so we need to sym­pa­thise and em­pathise and help peo­ple as much as we can.”

The high­est food price in­creases since June 1990 have prompted more peo­ple on mid­dle in­comes to turn to the Sal­va­tion Army for help.

“When there’s not much left in the bud­get each week, it just takes some­thing like a large power bill to throw things out quite quickly,” Mrs Daly says.

“Then there is no money left for food and peo­ple need help.”

The Royal Oak food­bank is open to peo­ple who have used up other en­ti­tle­ments from Work and In­come or who are fac­ing an emer­gency.

A par­cel of items such as pasta, rice, bread, tinned food, eggs and drink is avail­able.

Mrs Daly says there’s usu­ally a sur­plus of food at this time of year, but she fears if the price rises con­tinue there will not be enough.

City mis­sioner Diane Robert­son says it’s vi­tal for peo­ple to take ac­tion be­fore they can no longer af­ford food.

“Don’t leave it un­til you have missed your pay­ments, it is so much eas­ier to get help be­fore that hap­pens,” she says.

Pres­by­te­rian Sup­port bud­get­ing ser­vice man­ager Mau­reen Lit­tle agrees the most im­por­tant thing is to ask for help be­fore it is too late.

“Foods like milk and bread are not re­ally lux­ury items, they are things you have to be able to pay for,” she says.

Ms Lit­tle says care­ful plan­ning is the first step to­wards cop­ing with ris­ing food costs.

She ad­vises peo­ple to write a shop­ping list and plan out a menu for the week, buy­ing only the items on the list.

Look­ing at cat­a­logues and shop­ping around for the best deals on fruit and veg­eta­bles will also help.

Peo­ple need to learn how to cook from scratch in­stead of us­ing ex­pen­sive pre-pack­aged meals and in­gre­di­ents.

But with­out a strong house­hold bud­get sav­ing money on food will have lit­tle ef­fect, says New Zealand fed­er­a­tion of fam­ily bud­get­ing ser­vices man­ager Raewyn Fox.

“You have to write ev­ery­thing down, be re­ally hon­est and fig­ure out how much money you have to live on,” she says.

“Make sac­ri­fices where you have to. Peo­ple re­ally do need to pri­ori­tise feed­ing their chil­dren.”

The Sal­va­tion Army in Royal Oak reg­u­larly runs a Liv­ing To­day cook­ing course.

The eight-week course cov­ers cook­ing on a bud­get, win­ter meals and easy healthy food.

For more in­for­ma­tion, phone 625-7940.

What’s your tip for stretch­ing the food bud­get fur­ther? Email edcl@snl. co.nz.


Help­ing out: Sal­va­tion Army Royal Oak com­mu­nity min­istry man­ager Caryn Daly has no­ticed more peo­ple need­ing the food­bank in the wake of ris­ing food prices.

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