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Food charities tell story of increasing hardship

Foodbank in Masterton has used up all of the food donated in November’s annual food drive. PHOTO/FILE

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The Foodbank in Masterton has used up all the food donated in the annual food drive in November and will buy what it needs for the rest of the year.

It was an insight into the growing scale of need in the community made public in a presentation by Waiwaste, Foodbank Masterton and Community Kitchen to Masterton District Council’s community well-being committee on Wednesday.

Committee members broke into an unprompted loud round of applause for three women, Elise Sadler from Waiwaste, Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley, and Beverley Jack from the Community Kitchen.

The three organisations are separate but their collaboration is unique.

Sadler started by charting the growth of Waiwaste since 2015. It collects food that is good enough to eat but not good enough to sell. It can be overstocked items or food near its use-by date or food from growers with too much to sell.

The group helps organisations minimise their own waste, its work reduces the cost of food parcels and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

It has partnership agreements with the major supermarkets, Hansells, Henergy Eggs and has just sealed an agreement with Cameron Family Farms.

It has 25 volunteers in Masterton and there are groups in Carterton, Featherston and Martinborough, which are financially separate but work together.

Tankersley also said Foodbank, which has 50 volunteers in Masterton, “is in good health at the moment” in new premises provided by Lands Trust.

Her rundown of operations was a show-stopper in terms of revealing the extent of need. It delivered 2500 parcels in 2018.

But parcels don’t tell the full story because the parcels have been getting larger because people are living together. One parcel can be for 20 people in a family with three generations living in one property.

She and Jack said they deliver to families with people living in caravans and garages and sleeping in cars on the property.

Foodbank Masterton delivered to a household with six adults and seven children on Tuesday.

It has had a 25 per cent increase in the number of adults and children it delivers to.

The annual drive in November for food items used to provide food that lasted for 10 months. This year it ran out in April.

It used to collect food items from donation bins in supermarkets twice a week but only does it once now because not as much food is being put in the bins.

Foodbank spent $48,000 buying food last year. This year it will spend more.

“We are facing a time now of purchasing 100 per cent of basic items for food parcels.”

Tankersley said the people who used to give food are now needing it from the Foodbank. They’re in work but finances have been stretched by rising rents or an unexpected bill and there has been more need from those who have mental health issues.

The Community Kitchen only provides its frozen cooked meals via agencies, with 60 volunteers cooking meals each week.

Every week 60 volunteers in Masterton cook the meals that are then frozen.

They use rescued food, food from community gardens and donated food.

They started in July last year and in the past 10 months they gave out around 2000 meals.

They were warmly received with Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson commenting “we really appreciate the work you do”, and councillor Gary Caffell describing the presentations as “sobering”, while councillor Bex Johnson contributed several ideas to reinvigorate donations of food.

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