Food bank marks 20th an­niver­sary

Hamilton News - - COMMUNITY - Ge­off Lewis

Ex­pected to be a tem­po­rary mea­sure, the Hamil­ton Com­bined Chris­tian Food Bank is still in busi­ness af­ter 20 years.

That time of the year is ap­proach­ing when the stress on the bud­get of­ten means short­cuts are taken ev­ery­where. But when it comes to food, peo­ple need to eat, and the Hamil­ton Com­bined Chris­tian Food­bank is mak­ing its an­nual ap­peal for do­na­tions of food.

Is­sues fac­ing those strug­gling to make ends meet in­clude the cost of hous­ing, ca­su­alised em­ploy­ment and sea­sonal work of­ten sees in­creas­ing num­bers of in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies ap­proach the food bank for help over the fes­tive sea­son.

Food bank co-or­di­na­tor Louisa Humphry, who has per­formed the man­age­ment role for 10 years, said de­mand went through waves and there didn’t seem to be­have in any pre­dictable fash­ion.

”With the re­cent in­crease in ben­e­fits we ex­pected de­mand to re­duce, but it didn’t.

“It seems to show that what­ever ex­tra peo­ple re­ceived it dis­ap­peared in other ex­penses.

”We see a lot peo­ple with trou­ble find­ing work.

“Their ben­e­fits have been sus­pended be­cause they can’t af­ford to run a car and can’t get to work, they’re not on-line be­cause a com­puter con­nec­tion costs too.”

The food bank has reg­u­lar meet­ings with Work&in­come to talk over spe­cific cases.

“Winz staff also did a big food col­lec­tion drive last Christ­mas.

Fig­ures pro­vided by the food­bank show in its first full year of op­er­a­tion 1999-2000, it spent $173,256 and pro­vided 3145 food parcels.

The most re­cent full year, 2017 — 2018 it spend $244,762 on 4052 parcels cater­ing to 6956 adults and 6308 chil­dren.

The HCCFB pro­vides about 75 per cent of food-aide in Hamil­ton with the Sal­va­tion Army mak­ing up the re­main­der. Much of the fi­nan­cial sup­port for the HCCFB comes from char­i­ta­ble donors, the con­gre­ga­tions of its con­stituent church groups and many schools around Hamil­ton help with reg­u­lar food col­lec­tions.

Man­ager of the Hamil­ton Bud­get­ing Ad­vi­sory Trust Tony Agar said the cost of hous­ing was a ma­jor fac­tor.

”The av­er­age na­tional rental is $447 a week and there’s 590,000 peo­ple rent­ing so it’s a big prob­lem. There is a short­age of af­ford­able rental prop­erty in Hamil­ton and a lot more peo­ple in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

High lev­els of debt, pay-day loans with very high rates of in­ter­est, cloth­ing trucks and far-too-easy ac­cess to credit and fi­nance all com­bine to put some peo­ple into un­ten­able fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tions, he said.

Last year the HBAT con­ducted 1700 one-on-one men­tor­ing ses­sions with 900 clients and ran 124 fi­nan­cial man­age­ment work­shops which at­tracted 400 par­tic­i­pants.

Among the vol­un­teers who keep the food­bank op­er­at­ing are Jack and June Mans, both in their 80s.

The for­mer O¯ toro­hanga dairy farm­ers have been mak­ing weekly de­liv­er­ies of made-up food parcels to church dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres around Hamil­ton for the past 20 years.

Any­one in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing food are asked to pro­vide non-per­ish­able items in­clud­ing tinned meat, fish, vegeta­bles, stews, soups, baked beans and spaghetti, tinned toma­toes, rice, pasta, noo­dles, milk pow­der, ce­re­als, tea, cof­fee and drink sa­chets.

Food can be de­liv­ered to the Methodist City Mis­sion 62 Lon­don St.

Due to con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity, ac­cess is signed from Har­wood St be­tween the car park and the old Work­ing­men’s Club build­ing. For fur­ther de­tails call Wendy 07 839 3917 or email wendy@hmss.org.nz

Photo / Ge­off Lewis

Hamil­ton Com­bined Chris­tian Food Bank man­ager Louisa Humphry with 20-year food par­cel de­liv­er­ers Jack and June Mans.

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