Food parcel demand rises: ‘Food can become a discretionary item’

Auckland City Mission - Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Auckland City Mission says there's been a disturbingly high increase in people needing food parcels in the last twelve months.

There's been a 28 percent jump in demand - to about 1 million parcels.

Chris Farrelly from the mission said while they were used to providing food, there is currently a huge demand.

"It's winter that really hits people, often health takes a bashing, something really happens," he said.

"[It] just takes them over the ability to provide food on a daily basis and food can become a discretionary item for a family or an individual who has nothing."

He said some people need loans to get them through the season.

Mr Farrelly is encouraging people to donate what they can to the food parcel programme.

But Mr Farrelly said a recently approved $5m funding grant from the Auckland Council towards a housing plan is heartening.

Named HomeGround, the ambitious development will have 80 housing units with onsite wrap around health and support services.

It will also have a medical and detox centre, educational and training facilities, crisis care emergency support, spaces for local community needs and meal and food services.

Mr Farrelly said the mission has raised about $82m - $35m of that has been footed by central government.

But the community is very much involved.

"There's been a lot of individual donations, a lot of generous families, individuals, organisations, churches, community groups - this is a whole of a city," he said.

"When New Zealanders set their minds on really climbing a mountain that nobody else can climb, I think they're doing that in terms of ending homelessness in this country and the way we're going with this support, we will and hopefully sooner rather than later."

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