Concern workers need food bank

Salvation Army Dunedin Community Ministries manager David McKenzie and foodbank 
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Salvation Army Dunedin Community Ministries manager David McKenzie and foodbank volunteer Donna Dunford look over the shelves in preparation for making up food parcels. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

People in full-time work are among those coming to the Salvation Army Dunedin food bank for help, with the cost of housing a major challenge for many.

Demand remains steadily high at the food bank, as families facing high winter bills struggle to afford food.

Salvation Army Dunedin Community Ministries manager David McKenzie said the food bank had worked with 1200 Dunedin families in the past 12 months - a similar number to previous years.

However, the growing number of people in work needing food parcels was a concern.

"It has usually taken a lot to get them here, but they are desperate,'' he said.

"The cost of housing is a major factor.''

People needing food parcels faced a range of issues, including housing uncertainty, difficulty with school lunches, budgeting skills, and high-interest loans.

"What we are seeking to do is to work with our clients in a deeper way, to follow through with them on budgeting and other issues,'' Mr McKenzie said.

The Salvation Army had established a transitional housing programme to help people struggling to find rental accommodation, but the tight housing situation in Dunedin was making it difficult to move people on, he said.

Salvation Army Dunedin food bank co-ordinator Gail Geels said the organisation co-operated with the city's other main food banks - Presbyterian Support Family Works and St Vincent de Paul - to ensure supply needs were covered.

At this time of the year, items that could be used to make warm, hearty winter meals were in high demand, including canned vegetables, pasta sauces, just-add-meat sauces, and tins of soup.

"Families are also in need of food for school lunches, with some parents keeping children at home because they have nothing to give them,'' Ms Geels said.

"And we have quite a few schools in the city who are providing breakfast for the children.''

Since 2015, Salvation Army food banks across New Zealand have been supported by The Foodbank Project, a joint initiative with Nelson-based developer Lucid and Countdown supermarkets.

The project has just passed $1 million in donations.

Salvation Army national head of communities ministries Jono Bell said housing was a major cause of financial struggles for families across New Zealand.

"We are hearing of parents going without meals themselves, in order to give the children enough to eat.

"We are striving to relieve some of that pressure through our programmes - such as our food banks, financial knowledge and positive lifestyle programmes,'' Mr Bell said.

The Foodbank Project enabled people to go online at www.foodbank.org.nz and give "winter bundles'' of food, which were delivered directly to the food banks.

BRENDA.HARWOOD @thestar.co.nz

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