Food bank in de­mand

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

More city peo­ple are strug­gling to make ends meet, and are turn­ing up in in­creas­ing num­bers at Methodist So­cial Ser­vices food bank.

Good­will food bank co­or­di­na­tor Stacey Rohloff says the num­ber of fam­i­lies need­ing ba­sic food and cloth­ing is ris­ing, and so is poverty in Palmer­ston North.

‘‘We av­er­age about 26 ap­pli­ca­tions for food on a daily ba­sis. At least 18 of those are fam­i­lies with chil­dren. It’s ridicu­lous.’’

Af­ter Christ­mas the char­ity usu­ally ex­pe­ri­enced a lull, but this year Stacey says there are more fam­i­lies re­quir­ing sup­port.

‘‘There’s in­creas­ing pres­sure on peo­ple pay­ing for the ne­ces­si­ties of life – food, power, hous­ing. It’s all ex­pen­sive nowa­days. ‘‘Peo­ple are just strug­gling.’’ It is par­tic­u­larly hard for large fam­i­lies, who are find­ing them­selves liv­ing week-to-week, and strug­gling to save any ex­tra money from their ben­e­fits. She says ben­e­fits sim­ply did not cover to­day’s cost of liv­ing.

‘‘It’s re­ally peo­ple with chil­dren who are feel­ing the bite.’’

The lat­est Child Poverty Mon­i­tor re­port, re­leased by Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner Rus­sell Wills in De­cem­ber, found nearly one-third of all New Zealand chil­dren were liv­ing in poverty and more than half of those kids would never es­cape it.

Palmer­ston North Labour MP Iain Lees-Gal­loway says there needs to be more sup­port for agen­cies and food banks in the city.

Na­tional list MP Jono Naylor says the Govern­ment was tak­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate steps to al­le­vi­ate poverty, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on child poverty in New Zealand.

Com­ing into ef­fect from April 1, the Govern­ment’s Chil­dren and Hard­ship Act will in­crease work obli­ga­tions for sole par­ents and in­crease ben­e­fit and stu­dent al­lowance rates.

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