Foodbank demand echoes “Mother Hubbard”

Lack of money and high prices are causing food shortages in hundreds of thousands of New Zealand homes. Foodbank demand is soaring.

Working families are among the growing number lining up for help as the cost of living and inflation bubble upwards.

Food shortages are hitting food banks too.

Like “Mother Hubbard“, who went to the cupboard, North Island foodbank staff are finding bare pantries.

People are generous but can’t afford to donate as they did in the past – they just don’t have the means.

Less food, fewer parcels

Aotearoa Food Parcel Measure indicates that the nationwide number of food parcels distributed in March was 3422 fewer than at the start of the year.

“We’re having to really tighten the budget and be really careful with our purchasing, we’re mindful that we’re in a position of reasonable stability for a charitable organisation,” says Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin.

Urban marae are also trying to fill their communities’ pantries. They are cash-strapped too.

Papakura Marae’s Tony Kake says his marae’s foodbank is struggling to feed everyone asking for help. They give out about 300 food parcels per week. About 75 percent of the whānau they help are regulars – but anyone who needs help is welcome, he says.

Where to from here?

Any idea that last week’s budget would help has died.

In a statement commenting on the 2023 Budget, the Auckland Catholic Diocese Justice and Peace Commission says there is little bread-and-butter support for those in most need and very little to alleviate intergenerational family poverty.

The Commission said that implementing the May 2019 Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s key recommendation to substantially increase basic Social Welfare payments so that families can support themselves continues to be ignored.

“And the promised relief for families in the face of rising costs seems to be completely missing in action.

“What sort of society are we when 71 billion dollars can be found for very necessary infrastructure but only scraps of funding for families who are so overwhelmed by rising food and rent costs, they are being forced to choose between paying the rent to avoid homelessness and feeding hungry children?”

The Commission thinks a more focused approach to providing support would help.

There needs to be a solid plan in place, moving ahead, “rather than just a reactive, here’s an extra $10 a week” the Commission said.

Helen Robinson, Chair of Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective and Manutaki at the Auckland City Mission, says local government and local food plans need to be at the heart of the response, while being connected to a National Food Strategy.

This would mean our domestic and export food systems are in concert with each other.

Robinson’s basing her views on a report the Collective has just released. Called ‘Realising Food Secure Communities in Aotearoa: a review of locally led reports, plans and strategies’, it shows us that we know how to do this, and that we can, she says.

It spotlight ways mana whenua, local communities, councils and central government can work together.

When working in partnership, together we can build food secure communities, Robinson says.




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News category: New Zealand, Palmerston.

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