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Library responds to increasing need for food

There are increasing indications that a growing number of Wairarapa residents are finding it difficult to cope with the rising cost of living.

During drop-in sessions at Masterton library that were intended to provide assistance with filling in this year’s census, staff were noticing many customers coming in “visibly hungry”, Masterton District Council’s chief executive report has noted.

It was also observed that many of these customers were attending the programmes just to get a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Community engagement librarian Janet McAllister said she and other staff have been noticing these patterns for some time, ‘but definitely have noticed it a lot more over the past two or three years”.

McAllister said she, along with other library staff, began picking up extra grocery items to leave on a table for those who needed them.

Eventually, this led to McAllister and her colleague Mary Buckner contacting Waiwaste to sort out a more permanent solution.

Now there’s a once-a-week delivery of food items from food distribution centre Waiwaste that are free for anyone to take, and McAllister said library staff had noted a wide range of people doing so.

“It’s varied, and it’s important for us to remember that it’s not just one demographic or part of our society,” McAllister said.

“You can never tell when someone’s in need.”

Masterton Resource Centre manager Trudy Jones said the facility is seeing people of all backgrounds in need of extra support.

“It’s the middle bracket with children and family, it’s the pensioners, and people struggling to keep the ball afloat,” Jones said.

“How can you put your kids into sports, or a uniform on your child?”

Jones said the elderly especially are struggling with the cost of living, as they often miss out on other benefits and support.

“Pensioners are a huge part of who we’re seeing, they slip in between the gaps. They can’t access things that other beneficiaries can.”

Jones said the vulnerable in Wairarapa’s population know where to go for food and support, and that services aren’t as clear for this other group who are now struggling to make ends meet.

“The people we’re looking after are the ones who don’t go to the food bank,” Jones said.

“These people, the middle bracket, are struggling with the cost of living.”

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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