A one hundred percent increase in food parcels which were delivered between December 2008 and December 2009 leaves Victor, manager of the Waitakere foodbank, horrified. He says ‘there’s no doubt about it there a recession there's an awful lot of people hurting and the recession will be here for a long time’. One of the signs of the recession is the increasing difficulty in getting stocks for the foodbank. These days, when Victor goes to the City Mission to collect food, the back of the station wagon is only half filled, and the foodbank store room is full of empty boxes, whereas a year ago they were bursting at the seams with food donations.
Victor,Co-ordinator, Waitakere Community Outreach Foodbank
The Foodbank room is stocked with a variety of food that will make up a generous, balanced and nutritious food parcel for a family for three or four days.Food parcels are not collected by people who request them, they are delivered,
‘This is not just about delivering a food parcel. When we go we knock on the door and often go in for a friendly chat , so we are interacting and communicating with people. I might ask if they are going through a rough patch – we have a conversation’.
The food bank is run with style. When the phone rings Victor says
‘Greetings and salutations. May your day be filled with joy and sunshine. What the world needs is compassion and love and there’s not enough of it. Blessings to you and how can we help you?
Out comes the record book from the desk drawer and Victor takes down the name and address and other information that is meticulously recorded.
The food parcel team work in tandem with Lifewise, the Methodist social service team. Any further needs that families have that are picked by the person calling with a food parcel, can be referred to Lifewise. These may be for budget advice, …..
‘It works really well because they do all the counselling and budgeting and leave the food parcels to us. ‘Sometimes you give the parcel and you can see things are not the way they should be.’
Lifewise have a brochure with information for contacts for counselling, budgeting, night shelters, housing, alcohol and other services. The brochure is included with the food parcel as a strategy for being able to respond to underlying issues for some families who need food parcels.
Victor and Richard are part of a team of six who deliver food parcels. They have quite a bit to share about people in need from the people they meet:
‘We are all children of the universe. We’re all human beings and have talents – some people don’t tap into them. A lot of people have no self esteem. There are others who say ‘right I’m not going to get stuck down here’. There’s been an article running in the Herald and last week there was someone say in some ways being redundant is good because they’ve gone on to different things’.
Richard is on the food parcel delivery team
People losing their jobs has a big impact on families with ‘ripple effects’ and it means that more people are needing food parcels. Richard has been finding children at home when he delivers food parcels and when he asks why they are not at school the answer is ‘because they haven’t anything to eat’. Victor says ‘and these are not isolated cases’. Another thing is middle class families who need food parcels and their appreciation of items such as washing powder, which costs $5 at the supermarket. They also have stories about people who have harsh experiences like a man who was beaten up and robbed, and when he was discharged from hospital had no money for food.
The Waitakere Community Outreach links in with two other agencies and they share information and check on double-ups.
‘People get a parcel from me every three months, and some try it on with me but that’s why I keep a data base and records’.
In 2008 the total number of food parcels was 1,295. In 2009 2,263 food parcels were delivered.
Families may get one food parcel every three months, and if they go for budget advice they get an extra food parcel. Although Victor supports budget advice he has some strong words to say about budgeting:
'budgeting’s all well and good, and good on them, but my argument is that if your ingoings don’t exceed your outgoings how can you budget? Waitakere Community Outreach Committee meeting
And most families start with a deficit’
For information on parish initiatives visited for the NZCCSS Manaaki Hapori project, contact:
Phone: 04 473 2627 / 021-388-337