Sunday, November 28

As food prices rise, Auckland City Mission sees increased demand for services

Over the past three months, demand for Te Tāpui Atawhai Auckland City Mission’s services has been the highest in the organization’s 100-year history.

Meal packages at BBM HQ in Manukau.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Mission staff are concerned that it may not be able to provide up to 9,000 food boxes and tens of thousands of gifts for families who would otherwise be without this holiday season.

Missionary Helen Robinson said the lawsuit showed how many people lived without enough money to eat.

It is currently distributing more than 16,000 food packages each week, more than double what was delivered before Covid-19.

“We are aware of people who have occasional jobs or even contracts, people who have been gratefully receiving the wage subsidy, but if their rent or mortgage payments make up a significant part of that, what’s left is very, very limited. “

The City Mission plans to deliver 9,000 food packages and 30,000 gifts in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, which Robinson said was its capacity.

“In fact, we’ve been doing everything we can for the past three months, so this planning for Christmas is truly the last breath the mission can take this year to respond to the level of need.”

He suspected that there would be more needs in the community than the organization could address.

The mission is seeking donations of money, food, and Christmas gifts to support those who were struggling.

West Auckland Budget Service Operations Manager Fiona Snijder said access to food was a problem for almost everyone who walked through the downtown doors.

“Food has become very expensive, our energy has increased, even water seems to have become a bit expensive too, so our basic goods are expensive, let alone rent.

“We are finding that almost every customer who comes in needs help with food.”

The executive director of the Women’s Shelter, Dr. Ang Jury, said that since the pandemic began, people’s needs were more complex and they faced more difficult problems, mainly due to inadequate income and poor housing.

“Domestic violence creates an environment of chaos in people’s lives and what we have seen with Covid is an additional layer of chaos.

“It has added a whole new layer to that difficult environment.”

Christmas was a particularly difficult time and the children at home during school holidays made additional demands for food.

Salvation Army Community Ministries National Director Jono Bell expected this holiday season to be one of its busiest, as the charity was already experiencing an increase in demand for services.

“There is definitely the financial hardship that people are experiencing and part of that for us at Christmas is trying to bring some relief and hope, have some gifts and some Christmas baskets that we can offer to people.”

Child Poverty Action economic spokesperson Susan St John said that while food banks and charities play an important role in the community, they cannot reduce poverty.

“Obviously, we need private charity, particularly at the moment because the immediate need has to be met, but that is not a long-term solution for a developed country, we have to move to a situation where people have enough money to cover their basic needs”.

He said the government had the ability to make changes, particularly to the Working for Families tax credit system, to address child poverty.

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