Cost of living driving working families to seek help

Mosgiel Community Foodbank co-ordinator Michelle Kerr says the steadfast support of the Taieri...
Mosgiel Community Foodbank co-ordinator Michelle Kerr says the steadfast support of the Taieri community helps keep the foodbank’s shelves well-stocked, even in tough times. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
The cheerful team at Mosgiel Community Foodbank have been caring for Taieri community members facing food insecurity for more than 30 years.

Part-time co-ordinator Michelle Kerr said although they dealt with fewer people than the big foodbanks in town, demand had definitely grown over the years.

She has been part-time co-ordinator for the past 12 years, working with about a dozen volunteer helpers across the week to give out food parcels.

She was previously involved for several years as a volunteer.

The cost-of-living crisis had made it very difficult for many in the community to make ends meet, with the cost of food, rent and electricity often cited as the reason a food parcel was needed.

"The rising interest rates have also made a huge difference to families, and not in a good way.

"We are now seeing two-parent working families coming in because the interest rates are making it so difficult."

The foodbank team are friendly and welcoming to clients coming in to the space, knowing that it can be embarrassing to ask for help.

"A lady came in recently who said to us that it was really hard to come through the door," Mrs Kerr said.

"And I can understand that — it’s not easy to admit that you need help."

There were heartbreaking stories from people in need, and the team did their best to offer advice and suggestions for where they could go for further support.

The steadfast support of the "wonderful" local community, who drop off donations daily, ensures the foodbank has enough supplies to keep up with demand from those in need, at a time when its larger sister foodbanks in Dunedin are finding it tough.

"Having those donations coming in every day is what makes it possible for us to help our people," Mrs Kerr said.

However, she was concerned about the increasing pressure on foodbanks with so many redundancies and winter just around the corner.

"We are always busy during the [winter] months, but we will manage like we always do.

"We are so lucky that our community comes to the rescue very quickly when they are asked."

Founded in 1991, with the backing of local church parishes, Mosgiel Community Foodbank has been based in a hall at the back of Mosgiel Methodist Church, in Wickliffe St, since 1999.