WINZ note needed to gain foodbank help

04:32, May 05 2009

Lower Hutt's food bank is having to turn away people seeking help unless they carry a note from Work and Income New Zealand that they have used up their food allowance.

Food bank co-ordinator Bev Foster says the move has become necessary with some people because the bank is stretched to the limits after a big growth in demand since the end of last year.

The food bank's basement storage has emptied and it has become necessary to cut out luxury items.

"It's starting to get tough now. We're knocking out butter because it's too much of a luxury."

 Many casual workers and people who had been paid under-the-counter are looking for help after losing their jobs in the recession, Mrs Foster says.

"Telephone bills and rent break some people, especially the ones in private accommodation."

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Barnardos Family Support Services social worker Maree Dickson says it can be hard for people in need to chase down a WINZ officer. One of her clients, a single mother of four children, had been  reduced to tears after a week of failing to get a note from WINZ. She had needed a food grant to feed her children because  her ex-partner had lost his job.

Genuine clients look for help from food banks as a last resort, Ms Dickson says.

The increasing number of people seeking help from the food bank shows how much the recession is hurting low-income families in the community.

Ms Dickson understand levels of food grants from WINZ have doubled in the past year ''but it's just not enough."