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Pressure Is On Families In Lead Up To Christmas

Families using foodbanks will be under extreme pressure to go further into debt this Christmas, according to research released today.

The Poverty Indicator Project, run by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, shows that of the 2100 households going to the foodbanks included in the Project, over half are in debt.

‘These families do not currently have enough money for food, let alone anything extra to spend on presents, feasting and trips away this Christmas. They will either need to borrow more or miss out on activities that many of us take for granted,’ said Campbell Roberts, the Council’s Poverty and Housing Spokesperson.

‘We have seen a number of initiatives this year, by both community groups and government, which have lead to a slight reduction in clients at five of the seven foodbanks. However, everyday our social services still see the evidence of the extent of poverty that exists in NZ. This is further reflected in the research, which shows the pressure many families are under.’

‘This pressure is due to a combination of factors including debt, high rents in the private sector, rising power and food costs, and low base levels of income,’ said Campbell Roberts. ‘A package of local initiatives and national policy changes is still needed to address these issues raised by the report.’

‘Our position is that foodbanks should not be needed in NZ. This Project will continue to give us valuable information from which to advocate for this from. In 2002, NZCCSS aims to work more closely with government and our agencies to significantly reduce the need for people to come to foodbank,’ concluded Campbell Roberts.


The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) represents the social services of the Anglican Church, the Baptist Union, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Salvation Army. Collectively, our members have around 550 social service delivery sites in all areas of the country.

The Poverty Indicator Project has now been running in this format since the beginning of 2001. Three Quarterly reports have been produced, plus a report from the Pilot in 2000.

It focuses on key results about housing, income, employment and debt. The information has been provided by clients who have gone to seven foodbanks – one each in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, and Manukau City.

Note that this is only an indication of poverty in two ways it only measures result from a small sub-set of the total number of foodbanks in NZ (approx. 220) and those coming to foodbanks are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of those experiencing some form of poverty. They are the ones who have the courage and/or are desperate enough to ask for food – usually after exhausting or being refused other forms of help.

Key results for the July-September Quarter show that since the first quarter numbers have declined slightly at five of the seven foodbanks median disposable income has increased at four foodbanks that median housing costs have stayed the same or increased at five foodbanks A stabilising in the proportion of state house tenants needing assistance after a decline at the beginning of the year. over 40% of households at five foodbanks pay more than half of their income in rent over 50% of households at six foodbanks are in debt – a high proportion of which is to WINZ increased costs of basic foods and services over the quarter has meant that many households have had less to spend there are a number of differences in the trends between the foodbanks involved

The following table shows the actual numbers or percentages from the 1st quarter (Jan-Mar), 2nd quarter (Apl–June) and 3rd Quarter (July-September) for each foodbank involved. The full report is available from NZCCSS.

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