Food banks brace for winter

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Local food banks have braced for winter as the mercury continues to drop, and shelves are fully stocked to meet increased demand.

Cromwell Food Bank co-ordinator Adrienne Heal said while the service had been “quiet” over summer, more people were now coming forward to use the service.

“We expect it to ramp up a bit,” she said.

Food banks work with other services to provide those in need with additional support, including budget advice.

Mrs Heal said the co-ordinated approach ensured people were referred to the right agency.

“The people that need our help know where to get it,” she said.

“Anybody who’s in need can get help.”

Rising power bills or a large one-off debt payment could be all it took to set people back financially, she said, but foodbanks could help them get back on their feet.

Roxburgh Food Bank co-ordinator Richard Jory said the role of the service had changed over the past two years, and people were often seeking short-term help to “get over a hump” rather than ongoing support.

“You just never know what’s around the corner.”

The demand on local food banks was a good indication of how communities were faring financially, he said. Only a few people had come to the Roxburgh service for support over the past two years, he said.

“It’s a good indication of where the district is at.”

Mrs Heal said support from community organisations ensured the Cromwell Food Bank was well stocked, help ranging from donations of damaged dry goods from local supermarkets to money from school fundraisers and aid from church agencies.

Monetary donations were used to buy fresh fruits, eggs and meat.

“It’s very much a community-supported facility,” she said.

Community Networks Wanaka manager Kate Murray said while Wanaka’s food bank was well supported by the community, donations were always welcome.

Rice, pasta, sauces, canned fish, toiletries, breakfast foods, meats, crackers and baking goods were always sought after, she said.

And while the food bank was all about helping those in need, clients often returned the favour, making donations of their own or volunteering their time once they were back on their feet, Miss Murray said.

“A lot of people using the foodbank want to give back,” she said.

“It’s a great concept.”