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Foodbank Growth Shreds Any Credibility

The last remains of Steve Maharey's credibility are in shreds after his refusal to acknowledge huge increases in foodbank demand in key parts of the country, including his own electorate Palmerston North, National's Social Services spokesperson Bob Simcock said today.

"Despite all his pre-election promises and foodbank photo opportunities, the Social Services Minister 18 months on is being distinctly dismissive about the plight of foodbanks."

Mr Simcock's comments follow his questions to Mr Maharey on foodbanks in the House today. "The Minister responded with nothing but weasel words when I pin-pointed some of the foodbanks that are having to cope with significantly more demand.

Palmerston North's Salvation Army had a 19% increase in food parcel demand in the first three months of 2001 (972 food parcels) compared to the first three months of 2000 (789 food parcels).

In the same period food parcel demand at Rotorua's Salvation Army foodbank had a whopping 54% increase, up from 122 to 226. Demand at the All Saints Church's Pakuranga-Howick foodbank increased 15%, up from 190 to 224.

Auckland's Methodist Central Mission is forecasting demand to be up by about 30% for the year to 30 June 2001. Christchurch's City Mission too has experienced a notable rise with Rev Canon David Morrell saying 'despite being one of more than 42 foodbanks in Christchurch, the numbers of people presenting continues to increase'. Demand at 'The Nest' in Hamilton is also up.

"Mr Maharey tries to convince us that income-related rents have helped a few, but fails to explain why more low-income working families are queuing up for food parcels.

"Low-income households are struggling to cope with the latest 6% annual food increase, higher petrol and imported commodity prices, and the fact that 48,000 have missed out on the benefits of having a Community Services Card.

"It's about time Mr Maharey actually did something other than talk," Mr Simcock said. Ends

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