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The call for Christmas donations

With the holiday season fast approaching, those running the region’s food banks are expecting demand to continue at increasingly high rates.

At this point last year, Carterton Foodbank was averaging 60 food parcels per month.

This year’s figures indicate the service is currently averaging 70 parcels per month, a more than 15 per cent increase.

Coordinator John Vallely said the 10-parcel increase over this time is significant.

“We’re seeing a considerable number of new people coming to us,” Vallely said.

“It’s across the board, from individual elderly through to large families. It’s not just the unemployed or the pensioner, it’s people who have jobs.”

Noting the increase in average rent in Carterton – from $378 in 2020 up to $466 this year, according to economic consultancy Infometrics – Vallely said instead of foodbank parcels being in addition to a shop, they are a regular necessity.

“These days, a tank of petrol is $100,” Vallely said.

“Imagine you’re on a benefit. You pay rent for the week, half a tank of petrol, a power bill, and suddenly you find nothing left.”

Taking the holiday season into consideration, Vallely said it is a tough time for families who might be battling between the choice of food on the table and the pressure to buy presents.

The food bank runs with 30 volunteers who work on a fortnightly roster.

As Christmas day draws closer, Vallely said the team are starting to organise putting Christmas parcels together.

“It’s something to make Christmas day a bit special with meat, veggies, and dessert for a nice meal all put in a nice box.”

Unsure what kind of numbers to expect, Vallely estimates they will need to have around 50 parcels ready to go out.

Food bank committee member Debbie Mansfield said they work with local community groups, schools, and social workers to get referrals for families who might need a parcel for Christmas.

“It costs about $5000 to make them, and we know they’re going to families who need them,” Mansfield said.

“We’re definitely on the lookout for donations if there are any local businesses who can help.”

Mansfield said she expects the demand on the food bank to stay high for the holiday period.

“Looking forward, the cost of living hasn’t eased,” Mansfield said.

“I can see next year being the same. As a small food bank, we will be looking for more and more support.”

The recent food bank drive saw about two months’ worth of non-perishables donated.

Mansfield said any further donations are more than welcome, especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Fresh fruits and veggies now are great, we’re hoping that with the warmer weather, people can start to donate surplus grown at home.”

Anyone with spare produce to donate can leave it at the front door of Haumanu House, which is behind the clock tower on Carterton’s High St.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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