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Masterton Foodbank worried about cost of living

Masterton Foodbank manager Jenna Matchett [middle] and volunteers Jane Ammundsen [left] and Jane Horsham. PHOTO/HELEN HOLT

HELEN HOLT
[email protected]

Masterton Foodbank had seen a 95 per cent increase in demand in the last two years, due to covid-19 and the rising cost of living

The volunteers had seen a lot of new faces since the start of the year.

Manager Jenna Matchett said essential items like food and nappies became a choice.

“You’d be pretty ignorant not to know that things are getting more expensive.”

Additional funding for foodbanks and community connectors is welcome but it’s the rising cost of living that is likely to make the biggest impact in the near future.

Since November, $485,000 has been allocated to the six Wairarapa community food providers funded by the ministry to provide food support to whanau when in isolation.

The Ministry of Social Development announced a change last week to how the community services such as community connectors and foodbanks would operate.

The ministry announced a new fund of $58.1 million to be allocated to these services around the country, including $30.6 million was allocated for community connectors, and $18.5 million for community food organisations.

Masterton food bank provides food parcels for various needs, including recently providing for people in isolation.

Matchett said covid was only a small factor in the increase in demand.

“Even though covid might be winding down nationally we don’t expect to see a reduction in demand in our services.

“Covid is only a small contributing factor to the demand we are seeing at the foodbank and the economic situation is a much longer challenge for us.”

Matchett said until they see the announced government funding in the bank account, they wouldn’t rely on it coming through.

“The price of housing, power, petrol, healthcare, clothing, food, etc is what seems to really be affecting our client numbers and this will not be fixed when the covid response support winds up.”

Matchett said an unexpected bill was crippling for some families.

“Unexpected bills tip people over. People working full time on minimum wage can just afford rent, food and petrol.

She said the demand would likely increase heading into winter.

“People will be choosing between a raincoat or food. You hear stories about people choosing not to heat their house to cut costs.”

She said despite the huge demand, the community were very generous, providing donations and baking. “It makes such a difference.”

Community connectors proved active during the covid outbreaks. The connectors were contracted by the ministry to assist the community, such as bringing food and medical supplies during covid isolation.

MSD regional commissioner Blair McKenzie said the connector service had proven its value.

“The Community Connection Service takes an active approach to support individuals and whanau who may be struggling with the impacts of covid.

“Our immediate response to Omicron focused on supporting mass numbers of people to safely self-isolate; now, as demand for this support is lower, we’re able to support a broader range of circumstances for people who’ve been significantly impacted by covid requirements.

“We are now working with local community leaders to determine how these services can continue to help with providing better outcomes for our community in the future.

Wairarapa had three Community Connectors — He Kahui Wairarapa Incorporated, Pasifika o Wairarapa, and Wairarapa Safer Community Trust.

McKenzie said there has been just under 150 whanau who had used the Community Connection service in Wairarapa since
mid-December.

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