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Foodbanks: Still Part of the NZ Landscape

Foodbanks: Still Part of the NZ Landscape

The need for foodbanks has shown little decline, according to results from the latest Poverty Indicator Project foodbank study.

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services' quarterly report reinforces that those in hardship suffer from a lack of adequate income, affordable housing and manageable debt levels.

'It is concerning to us that there has been little overall improvement in the situations of families we are seeing at foodbanks', said Major Campbell Roberts, Council spokesperson.

'The people coming to the foodbanks do not have enough income to cover their basic needs' said Major Roberts. 'Combined with relatively high housing costs, many struggle to make ends meet'.

According to Major Roberts people in poverty are often not visible and it is possible to assume that there are no problems. 'To some extent poverty is not on the radar anymore', he said, 'but there are considerably more families struggling out there than just those who seek foodbank support.'

Major Roberts did, however, acknowledge that in the last quarter of 2002 there were some positive trends including a decline in the number of clients coming to the foodbanks.

The Poverty Indicator Project research documents the circumstances of clients at seven foodbanks across the country. Results of the survey include:

.. Sole parent and single person households are the most common household types seeking foodbank assistance.

.. Children are often involved. The percentage of households with children is 60% or greater at five of the seven participating foodbanks.

.. Most clients are aged between 25 and 40. These proportions are significantly greater (between 47% and 66%) than NZ Census proportions for the age group (29%).

.. The proportions of Maori clients are over-represented, relative to city census figures, at every agency.

.. Across the foodbanks three-quarters or more of people seeking foodbank support receive a benefit as their only source of income.

.. Foodbank clients are on low fixed incomes. This quarter the weekly household median income ranged from $200 to $320 across the seven agencies. Once housing costs were paid for, clients had a median weekly disposable income of between $100 and $211.

.. Over 60% of clients spent more than 30% of their income on housing.

.. More than half of those surveyed were in debt at five of the seven foodbanks.

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