Appeal for food gifts
THE demand for food from Aucklanders in need has reached a ‘‘ new normal’’, Salvation Army officers say.
And it is only getting worse as families head into the hardest part of the year.
Royal Oak Community Ministries manager Megan Dangen says Christmas is a ‘‘pressure point’’ for those struggling to make ends meet.
She is calling for community members and businesses to give their neighbours a helping hand this festive season by donating food.
The organisation does a largescale Christmas appeal and hands out 400 food hampers and 900 gift parcels. But there are still people turning up for food every day, she says.
‘‘It does leave families in a tough situation.
‘‘They’re already financially under the pump, because they’re beneficiaries or low-income earners.
‘‘We could double, triple or even quadruple the number, but for us it’s a lot. ‘‘There’s a huge need. ‘‘There has to be a limit where you say: ‘That’s the number we can do’.’’
The Royal Oak team helps people in the area stretching from Hillsborough to the city-fringe, Dangen says.
It distributes hundreds of food parcels every month, adding up to about 5000 annually.
This year they have seen a steady rise in needy families, she says.
‘‘There are tough times throughout the year where we struggle for items to put in the parcels.
‘‘About a month ago we were really low in food. We always need more food.’’
Demand in East Auckland is just as high. The Panmure Salvation Army ran out of its week’s worth of food parcels in just two days earlier this month.
Store manager Gary Davison says inflating rents, a lack of housing and loan sharks are all part of the problem. The cost of gifts, travel and childcare are then piled on top, he says.
The Salvation Army also offers budgeting and community services to give families a hand up, instead of just a hand out, Davison says.
‘‘We’ve been upping them for the holidays, but we’ve just hit a new normal, I guess.
‘‘Our idea is to kill ourselves off, so we’re not required. But unfortunately the need is growing, so we’re growing.’’
The Auckland City branch of the organisation relocated to Mt Wellington in July, after more than 130 years in the central city.
There is another food bank operating out of the new site and plans are in the works to open a notfor-profit early learning centre there in 2015.
It is about helping families with more than just a lack of food, major Allan Bateman says.
‘‘We’re constantly seeing people paying power, rent, water, there’s all the ‘ have-tos’ but food is the last thing left.’’
Pressure point: Megan Dangen says Christmas is not always a happy time of the year for struggling families.