Prepare for challenging year: CBAS

Bank on it . . . CBAS Foodhub is preparing itself for a challenging year and advises clients to do the same. PHOTO: NICK BROOK


Clutha Budget Advisory Service (CBAS) and Foodhub have early advice for their cash-strapped community: Look ahead and be ready for the challenges coming in the new year.

‘‘Come and see us about managing debt. Use meal planning to show where to cut back and shop for only what you need.

‘‘Think seriously about travel and switching to a more efficient vehicle, and start a food garden,’’ financial mentor and CBAS co-ordinator Lee-Anne Michelle said.

‘‘We are concerned we’re going to get busier as food, rent and other expenses continue to rise and the fuel subsidy is phased out from the end of February.’’

She said December’s lead-up to the holidays had been extra-busy with Toot-4 Tucker, distribution of Christmas food hampers and Wishing Tree presents, clients sent into overdraft by Westpac’s technical errors and recently employed people who were not eligible for holiday pay while their workplaces closed for the break.

Some non-custodial parents also needed help to feed extra mouths when their children came to stay.

Foodhub requests have increased 74% since CBAS took over the service from the Salvation Army last September, and while January was tracking in line with pre-Christmas months, Ms Michelle expected a spike with the expense of children going back to school and when festive Afterpay and credit-card debt became due.

Without any specific government agency food-bank support, CBAS and Foodhub themselves were in a constant campaign to secure sustainable funding.

‘‘We and our clients are extremely grateful for donations from churches, service groups, private businesses and individuals and we’re involved in ongoing discussions to secure financial help for our basic running expenses,’’ Ms Michelle said.

Funding covers wages and volunteer expenses, and the groups hope to secure a distribution van, chiller room to replace a fleet of domestic refrigerators and freezers and a kitchen to teach clients effective home economics.

CBAS and Foodhub operate with about 10 volunteers and just two staff — both part-time.

‘‘Our ultimate dream is for there to be no need for food banks, with everyone able to support themselves financially.’’

Foodhub at 18 James St, Balclutha, is open from 10am to 2.30pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

CBAS has been recognised with community awards, including for its Happy Feet children’s’ school shoes initiative and is open during business hours at 14C James St, Balclutha.