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Waikato Foodbanks face escalating costs to feed desperate

Waikato Foodbanks face escalating costs to feed desperate people

With rising food costs foodbanks are constantly struggling to meet the growing need to provide families with essential food items. Wages or benefits are simply not stretching far enough to adequately feed family members each week. The cost of food has risen by 7.5% this year and petrol prices have gone up again this week. Housing costs and electricity are more expensive than they were at this time last year.

There is an emerging group of the ‘working poor’ in the Waikato. The cost of supporting a family, paying for housing, and getting to a job, for those that have work, leaves little in reserve to pay for basic food items. Buying tomatoes and capsicums at winter prices would not be an option for most families.

Foodbanks have become a necessary survival service for many people in Hamilton and the wider Waikato region. “Twenty percent of people who come for budgetary advice are totally dependent on food parcels” Carole Fleming from Catholic Family Support Services told people attending the Annual General Meeting of the Hamilton Combined Christian Foodbank (HCCF) yesterday.

“Families are desperate and our foodbank resources are being stretched with increased demand and rising food prices” said Ms Fleming. There has been an 18.4% increase in the number of food parcels supplied to families over the first six months of this year compared to the same time last year. Requests for food parcels are coming from a broader group of people, although those struggling to live on benefits are the largest group.

The Hamilton Combined Christian Foodbank is a unique in that it is a collaboration of various churches which come together to run a very efficient service. They provide 60-70% of the food parcels in Hamilton with The Nest providing the balance. Louisa Humphry, HCCF Manager, said “donations of food cover about half of the cost of each food parcel and the other half of the cost needs to be covered by donations”. Each food parcel has an average value of $38.00. Donations to the food bank have slowed down and reserves are being drawn on to meet the cost of food in recent months.

The rise in demand for food parcels is a symptom of just how difficult it is to manage on a low income in a society where the most noticeable trickle-down effect is increasing poverty not wealth.

ENDS

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