Food banks need help all-year round

The Leader (Tasman) - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s not just about do­nat­ing cans of food and pasta - toi­letries and clean­ing prod­ucts are also needed, says

We’ve all seen the end-of-year cam­paigns ask­ing us to donate food to needy fam­i­lies so they can en­joy a mem­o­rable tummy-filled Christ­mas too.

While it’s a great re­minder to re­mem­ber the rea­son for the sea­son, it’s also easy to for­get that poverty is a year-round is­sue. Thank God for the Sal­lies and other food bank providers.

In 2016, the Sal­va­tion Army dis­trib­uted 55,425 food parcels to Kiwi fam­i­lies in need. Food parcels don’t ap­pear out of thin air though; the Sal­lies rely on do­na­tions from in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses to per­form its life­sav­ing work.

One or­gan­i­sa­tion do­ing its bit to make it eas­ier for New Zealan­ders to donate food is The Food­bank Project.

This is a not-for-profit, self­sus­tain­ing on­line gro­cery store that makes it easy for any­one to

donate pantry essentials on­line.

Founder Galen King set up the web­site with the idea that if peo­ple could see stats and in­fo­graph­ics demon­strat­ing the level of need – and how much (or how lit­tle) Ki­wis are ac­tu­ally giv­ing day-to-day – they’d be more in­clined to donate more gen­er­ously. Plus mak­ing a do­na­tion on­line is eas­ier than drop­ping phys­i­cal goods into col­lec­tion boxes for many busy Ki­wis.

But you might be sur­prised that food isn’t the only thing needy fam­i­lies are in des­per­ate need of. Among the most-needed goods on The Food­bank Project web­site are toi­let pa­per, soap and tooth­paste.

They seem like ob­vi­ous essentials, how­ever if the weekly food al­lowance isn’t go­ing to cover the gro­cery bill, they’re of­ten the first prod­ucts to be dropped off the list in favour of food.

An­other sce­nario that might not in­stantly be as­so­ci­ated with a food bank is women’s hy­giene. Pads and tam­pons are not cheap (there’s an on­go­ing dis­cus­sion in and around Par­lia­ment about re­mov­ing the GST ap­plied to them to make them more af­ford­able) and un­for­tu­nately they’re the kinds of prod­ucts that are left off the gro­cery list if food is also a pri­or­ity. Some Kiwi teenagers miss out on a week of school ev­ery month be­cause they don’t have ac­cess to san­i­tary prod­ucts, or are forced to use un­hy­gienic re­place­ments like rags or old tow­els.

Clean­ing prod­ucts are also essentials for many needy Ki­wis. Homes that are dirty are also un­healthy so ac­cess to toi­let and sur­face clean­ers give fam­i­lies free­dom in clean­li­ness. And other prod­ucts such as de­odor­ant, sham­poo and tooth­brushes are hardly la­belled as lux­u­ries, yet many Kiwi fam­i­lies are forced to keep them off their shop­ping lists for the sake of buying food.

Neigh­bourly is a great plat­form to sup­port these kinds of wor­thy com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions. If you have a food bank near your place that you know could use a lit­tle more sup­port, why not set up a do­na­tion drive on Neigh­bourly and en­cour­age your com­mu­nity to con­trib­ute. For more in­for­ma­tion about The Food­bank Project, visit food­bank.org.nz.

ALDEN WIL­LIAMS/STUFF NZ

Galen King has set up The Food­bank Project, a not-for-profit on­line gro­cery store that makes it easy for any­one to donate pantry essentials on­line.

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