Demand for community food bank has risen with cost of living crisis
Marlborough Community Foodbank manager Wynnie Cosgrove with volunteers packing parcels for delivery.
As the cost of living bites, Marlborough’s food bank is seeing more families in employment accessing its service.
While the past year hadn’t resulted in the same spike in demand that happened in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic, Marlborough Community Foodbank manager Wynnie Cosgrove said there was still strong demand for its parcels.
Cosgrove said in the past financial year, 40% of food packages went to families with at least one person in full-time employment, a 10% increase from the year before.
“The pressure on people just to put food on the table for their whānau is significant.”
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Philanthropic organisation Rātā Foundation has played a role in helping the foodbank meet the demand, supporting it to pay for the running of its delivery van and installing heat pumps on the premises.
The foundation has contributed to the food bank for a number of years, donating more than $31,000 – half of which was given in the past two years.
Foundation chief executive Leighton Evans said the Marlborough Community Foodbank supported those most in need and ensured families had access to necessities.
“The food bank and its many volunteers are wrapping their arms around the local community in support of those who are facing significant barriers to accessing life’s essentials,” Evans said.
The annual street appeal in November last year attracted up to 300 volunteers who collected up to 1000 boxes of nonperishable food, usually enough to meet demand until the middle of the following year.
But recent collection numbers had decreased, Cosgrove said, partly due to the cost of living crisis affecting those who would typically donate.
Running the food bank was not just about packing the parcels, Cosgrove said.
“We have a group of about 25 volunteers working throughout the week, and they pack parcels, do deliveries, sort inward goods.”
The food bank worked on client referrals and currently serviced 47 member organisations throughout the district.
These included the Salvation Army, Maataa Waka and Women’s Refugee.
Salvation army Blenheim corps officer captain Jacob Howen said the collaboration with the food bank allowed it to work more closely with people to address additional challenges they were facing.
Through the food bank’s support, organisations could make sure that families’ immediate need for food was met, Howen said.