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Food price rises bite into budget

JUNE 5, 2002

Food price rises bite into budget

Increases in basic food costs are adding pressure to families on low incomes, according to a report released today by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services.

Results from the latest Poverty Indicator Project show that, on average, sole parent families surveyed at the seven foodbanks in the study have only between $170-$225 to spend a week after paying their housing costs.

This amount would cover a basic grocery shop but little else according to a recent study by Otago University human nutrition department .

‘If those people coming to foodbanks spent even this recommended amount on food they would not have enough to pay for things like power, transport, school costs and medical bills’, said Campbell Roberts, the Council’s Poverty and Housing Spokesperson.

‘This means these families have to make choices - either go without food or some other essential item. They certainly do not have the ability to buy the amount and type food they need for a healthy life.

This is even more acute during the current period of rising food prices . As more than three-quarters of foodbank clients surveyed are on fixed incomes there is little room to absorb the continuing increases.

‘Our social services witness the detrimental impact that going without in a land of plenty has on people’s lives. We are concerned that the position of many on the lowest incomes has not improved significantly over the past few years. We need to face up to the fact that many in our society are missing out on basic necessities and opportunities right now.

‘Our research provides further evidence that poverty is entrenched in NZ. We find this situation unacceptable. Ending poverty needs to be a priority for this government and all others concerned with New Zealand’s future’, concluded Campbell Roberts.
For further media comment contact: For technical/data information
Campbell Roberts
Convenor of NZCCSS Housing and Poverty Policy Group
Mobile: 025 506 944
Work: 03 377-0799
Home: 03 382-1522
Email: campbell_roberts@nzf.salvationarmy.org Adrian Whale
NZCCSS Executive Officer
Work: 04 473 2627
Mobile: 025 779 341
E-mail: adrian@nzccss.co.nz


The following pages summarise the results by agency. Key results include-
Over the Past Quarter (Jan - Mar 2002)
- increases in the numbers of people coming to a foodbank per month at three agencies and decreases at three agencies (one no change).
- Disposable income for sole parent families by agency are: Southland Foodbank ($225), PS Otago ($219), Christchurch City Mission ($194), Wellington DCM ($171), Palmerston North Methodist Mission ($177), Hamilton Combined Foodbank ($168), Manukau Salvation Army ($176)
- the percentage of sole parent households ranges between 15% in Wellington DCM to 54% at Manukau Salvation Army. They are the most common form of household type seeking assistance at 6 out of 7 foodbanks.
- Over half the households seeking assistance include children, excluding Wellington (28%).
- Over 70% of applicants rent. The proportion of those renting state houses has declined at 6 of the foodbanks this quarter.
- Over 70% of households at five foodbanks are in debt – the highest proportion is to WINZ

Annual Comparison (1st Quarter 2001 to 1st Quarter of 2002)
- A decline in the numbers of people coming to a foodbank per month at four agencies
- An increase in the medium disposable income at 5 foodbanks
- the proportion of people in debt has declined at five foodbanks.

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

The Poverty Indicator Project has been running in this format since the beginning of 2001. Four previous quarterly reports have been produced.

The Project 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. Local foodbank contacts are available from Adrian.

Note that this is only an indication of poverty in two ways:
a) it only measures result from a small sub-set of the total number of foodbanks in NZ (approx. 380) and
b) 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.

See Next Story for a table of survey results...

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