As the economic recession and rising prices continue to put pressure on Hawke’s Bay residents, food banks in Napier and Hastings are working hard to meet the need of local people for assistance with feeding themselves and their children.
The Napier Community Food Bank has been making public appeals for donations via local newspapers. “We’re seeing more people on wages coming through and people who haven’t used the food bank before,” said Diane Giles, administrator of the Napier service.
For the year ending this past March, the Napier bank had assisted 5,538 people. This compares with 3,901 people by the end of March 2008. This June the bank had 189 requests for help compared to 137 last June.
“Our budget services report more redundancies and people losing their homes,” Giles said. “All our community services are under pressure.” She cited the impact of power bills, the higher cost of food and lost jobs – “the combined effects of the recession” — as the cause.
The food bank in Hastings “is only just keeping up with demand,” said Greta Whan, administrator. The demand for up to 20 food parcels per day rapidly depletes their stocks. “We always need more donations to keep our stock up.”
The Hastings bank’s biggest change is in sheer numbers, with children “the deciding factor” in whether to give out a food parcel, Whan said. That help went out to 178 families with 330 children in July, a 48% increase over previous needs.
The Hastings bank also serves Havelock North and Flaxmere. Although the food bank expects to see more people in winter, largely due to the effect of seasonal employment in Hawke’s Bay, they now are seeing people affected by the economic downturn as well, Whan said.
The Salvation Army has seen a similar rise in the need for help of various kinds. Their distribution of food parcels alone has increased 88% compared to last year.
While the Napier and Hastings food banks do receive some financial support from their respective city councils, they look to their communities for donations of both food and funds to purchase food. With limited resources, the food banks are careful with their distribution of food parcels in response to requests and referrals from other sources. “We don’t have a strict limit on the number of parcels we give,” said Whan. “We use our discretion and our extensive knowledge of the community to make those decisions.”
The food banks are staffed by volunteers, who make up the parcels, sort food items and check for use-by dates. Anything out of date goes to the landfill, with the food banks paying the landfill fees.
You Can Help
The banks need canned food, sausages, bread, cereals, baked beans, spaghetti, fresh produce, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, nappies, household cleansers – a regular shopping list of items. Local supermarkets both donate goods and encourage shoppers to donate by providing space for collection bins.
To donate directly to the Hastings Food Bank, phone the bank at 878-0530 or place donations in the bin at the New World supermarket in Hastings.
To donate to the Napier Food Bank, leave donations at any of the following:
• Donations bins in local supermarkets
• St. Columba’s Church, Gloucester St., Taradale from 9.30am-noon
• Chris Tremain’s electorate office in Station St., Napier
• The Community House, 62 Raffles St., Napier
• BNZ offices in Napier and Taradale
• Or phone the food bank at 835-3370 to arrange drop-off or collection.
The Napier Food Bank also welcomes tax-deductible financial donations directly to its grocery account: BNZ 020766 0026618 02. A tax receipt can be provided.