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Food bank demand up

Masterton Foodbank has issued an urgent call for more donations as stocks run low due to growing demand from those experiencing financial hardship.

The food bank’s manager, Jenna Matchett, said there’s been an increase in clients from different walks of life needing help and many are showing signs of distress.

“It could literally be your neighbour, your relative or friend and you would never know.”

Matchett said numbers have risen more than a quarter since the covid pandemic and continue to rise. In February last year, 1796 people were fed by Masterton Foodbank, but February this year saw that figure increase by 479 people.

“The concern is with the economic situation,” she said.

“Charitable organisations aren’t exempt from rising costs, and like individuals, are faced with the continual rise in food prices.”

Matchett noted that Masterton Foodbank has overheads and operating expenses like other organisations but is without the means to create an income, which means it is reliant on charity – and unfortunately, the financial support the food bank has historically received is decreasing, she said.

“Funding is becoming increasingly difficult to secure with many funders reassessing what they can make available.”

Post-covid relief from the Ministry of Social Development has also stopped, which leaves a major hole in funding streams.

“We feel it is our responsibility to be reliable and stable in our clients’ lives as they have so many challenges in their lives already,” Matchett said.

“If we can’t do the work we do, who will?

“The carnage left behind from the pandemic is still very real and places like food banks are scrambling to keep people fed,” she said.

“We are currently looking for donations of any sort that can help us maintain the quality of the parcels we distribute to those in need. We also accept fresh fruit and veggies, preserves – as long as they are labelled and dated – and dairy products, as well as any non-perishable pantry items.”

Matchett is doubtful there’ll be a let up in the increased need for food parcels with winter approaching.

“Winter brings additional costs for people in the form of higher electricity bills, illnesses, and warm clothing,” she said.

It is fortunate, however, that the food bank will continue to distribute donations from Wairarapa Winter Jackets to keep people warm in winter alongside food parcels, she said.

Matchett also noted that if government cuts are made to the winter energy payment or free school lunches programme it will cause “huge” financial repercussions for those in need.

To donate money, food, or time email [email protected] or call 06 370 8034.


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