Foodbanks await spike in demand

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A good cause: (From left) Tiwai worker Sam Patton, Southland Food Bank chairman Peter Swain, Salvation Army Community Ministries co-ordinator Brenda King, Tiwai Aluminium Smelter general manager Stew Hamilton and Tiwai community relations officer Andrea Carson during delivery of a donation to the Southland Food Bank. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

SOUTHLAND foodbank staff are expecting a spike in demand when the Government’s wage subsidy ends.

Southland Food Bank chairman Peter Swain said staff were helping about 10 families a day.

During the first two Alert Levels demand had been steady but staff were expecting an increase at Alert Level 2, he said.

“That’s when the real pressure will come into the foodbanks.

“When the wage subsidy ends, the income will drop and people will still have bills to pay. That is the time the foodbank will be very helpful.”

Salvation Army Community ministries co-ordinator Brenda King said workers at its foodbanks already noticed an increase in the demand for parcels.

“Normally we do about 25 to 30 parcels a week. With Covid-19 we are doing more like 50 to 60 [parcels] a week and delivering them.

“I don’t think we’ll be going back to 30 any time soon.”

They had an increase of about 20% in donations, she said.

“We have been very grateful to the public. Southland is very generous and usually comes to the party when we have a need.”

Last week, staff members at New Zealand Aluminum Smelter at Tiwai Point donated food and grocery vouchers, valued at $3500, to both food banks.

Tiwai Aluminum Smelter general manager Stewart Hamilton said he was proud of his staff’s efforts and the fact they recognised they were privileged to be able to continue working.

Southland people in need of food parcels must go through Emergency Management Southland (EMS).

Its staff did a needs assessment and would then send referrals to the foodbanks.

EMS duty controller Simon Mapp said they had received about 480 calls since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Of that number, about 250 were in relation to help with food parcels.

“We expect pressures will mount as time goes by.”

Anyone who needed support should contact the centre, he said.

“It’s important that our whole community pulls together to support each other, which is what Southland always does.”

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