Food banks expect more demand

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Support groups operating food banks in the Clutha district are worried that they will soon see a spike in the demand for their services.

The district has four organisations which can help with food costs and while most experienced a slight demand for their services during the Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions, they all voiced concerns for winter.

Salvation Army Balclutha mission director Kaye Bell said the demand for supplies from the Balclutha food bank had definitely increased over the past two weeks and anticipated it would continue to rise.

“The current financial situation continues to impact on many people in the district, and with people not getting the wage subsidy while working reduced hours and the prospect of winter coming it is all contributing to the demand,” she said.

Support volunteer Sue Wink said the community groups helping the community food bank in Tapanui had all been “fabulous” over the lockdown.

“The demand has been about the same as last year, there are always bits and pieces going out to those who need it, the support groups have all pitched in but we are starting to worry about what will happen when the pressure comes on to families and those in need who have to pay power bills and decide what not to buy,” she said.

In Lawrence, community food bank volunteer Alison Joyce said they were working on a need-by-need basis.

“During the lockdown we undertook a few deliveries, some places we went to were very, very low on food while others were facing an empty pantry so it was good that we were able to help out as most didn’t even know that Lawrence has a food bank.

“We were also amazed at the generosity of local producers who offered us many different fresh food items,” Mrs Joyce said.

“There were lots of fruit, veges and eggs, so we organised a special delivery to 60 households starting with those living in the council flats and local pensioners. It was amazing seeing the joy on their faces when we delivered the parcels,” she said.

Lawrence food bank organiser Andrew Harrex echoed the praise for the donations of food.

“We have been working really well with other local organisations, like the Lions, and while the demand is rising it is all going very well here at the moment.

“We have a special community here but with local farmers holding excess stock at present it is starting to be a worry for them financially,” he said.

Milton food bank co-ordinator June Caldwell said their operation was coping well and they had been very fortunate with suppliers.

“We have given out some extra parcels compared to last year but I suspect that when the subsidies come off there will be a much higher demand for our services.”