Demand for food bank rises

Flour power . . . Clutha Budget Advisory Service workers (from left) Jessica Michelle (19), Amy Senada and Vivienne Fiddes weigh bags for Food Hub parcels. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

The Clutha Budget Advisory Service (CBAS) Food Hub has seen a 74% increase in clients in the past three months.

CBAS service co-ordinator and financial adviser Lee-Anne Michelle said since taking over the food bank service from the Salvation Army on September 1 this year, weekly food parcels had grown to an average of about 18 every week.

‘‘Ongoing funding is challenging but support from the community is amazing,’’ Ms Michelle said.

‘‘Businesses, organised groups like churches and individuals have been very generous with donations of cash and food items.’’

The Balclutha Combined Churches Christmas Tree Extravaganza at Clyde St Presbyterian Church, and Clutha Licensing Trust’s senior citizens annual Christmas luncheons both chose CBAS as the recipient of their donations this month, and funding would go towards operational costs, including incomes for the few non-volunteer CBAS staff, a van to manage food distribution and courses like financial mentoring for clients, Ms Michelle said. ‘‘Using money is more complex than most people think and harder for some more than others. Mentoring involves showing people how to most effectively use what income they have and suggesting ways that priorities and savings can be made. We see a lot of people struggling to meet consumer lending commitments so they end up cutting back on food and other essentials.

‘‘With costs of living rising, we can work with people to look at their whole budget and see where they want it to be then look at ways to get there,’’ Ms Michelle said.

As the financially stressful holiday period closed in, the team’s Food Hub experience was helping CBAS refine systems and relationships with clients and agencies such as Work & Income NZ (Winz) and Anglican Family Care, to ensure their sought-after services were applied to those who needed them most, she said.

CBAS Food Hub is open daily from 10am-2pm at 18 James St, Balclutha, and is always ready to meet new people interested in volunteering.