Demand swamps food banks
More and more families living on the breadline are turning to food banks.
All the food banks contacted by Stuff said they had experienced a significant increase in demand over the past year, pointing the finger at rising living costs, but stagnant incomes.
Ka¯piti Community Food Bank coordinator Luke Wood said it was now taking on three or four new clients every day, contributing to an overall increase of about 25 per cent from a year ago. Some were referred by social support agencies, while others were people walking in off the street.
‘‘Clients are entitled to three food parcels each calendar year, and they will space these out as best they can, but there is usually a peak just before Christmas.
‘‘Usually numbers will fall off during the year, especially after winter, but not this year, which shows how great the need is. There are a lot of people in hardship out there.’’
Wood said a lack of rental accommodation available locally, combined with increasing rent prices, was forcing tenants out of the district. Consequently they faced higher transport costs to get to work or their children to school back in the Ka¯piti area, compounding the challenges they faced.
taki Food Bank manager Lucy Tahere said they currently had 157 clients, ‘‘quite a big jump’’ from 133 a year ago.
‘‘They’re not just beneficiaries either. A lot are working, but on minimum wage, which also doesn’t go far enough.
‘‘So many people out there just don’t have the extra money to be able to buy the food they need for their families. So, we need to step in to help out.’’
‘‘The cost of housing is the main issue. We have some families trying to survive on the mini- mum wage and having to pay between $300 and $400 a week, here in little taki. It’s a diabolical situation.’’
Tahere said the generosity of people, service clubs, businesses and other organisations that donated food and regular household products, or cash to purchase such items, was vital.
‘‘We’re very grateful for that support. Without it, we couldn’t do what we do.’’
The Salvation Army’s Porirua food bank co-ordinator, Elizabeth Iona, said it had seen a rise of about 65 in the number of new clients over the past year, and it was issuing between 50 and 60 food parcels every week.
The increase in demand on food banks was symptomatic of wider social issues, which the Salvation Army was doing its best to help address.
‘‘There is so much poverty around, it’s unbelievable. Their money runs out so quickly.O¯ After paying for rent, power, petrol, bills and other expenses, some will have just $60 left for everything else, including food to feed their family, for the entire week. They come to us truly desperate.’’
For a list of food banks and their contact details, visit www.foodbank.co.nz