De­mand swamps food banks

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - KELVIN TEIX­EIRA

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

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