Numbers who need food aid 'scary'
The number of people in Marlborough needing help to feed themselves and their families has gone from "worrying" to "scary", says John's Kitchen convener Yvonne Dasler.
Ms Dasler has been keeping count of the number of meals and bread parcels that the organisation provides to people in need each month.
She said there had been an increase of around 35 per cent in the number of meals and nearly 50 per cent in the number of bread parcels given out over the course of this year.
"We started John's Kitchen because there was a need, and it has increased each year with fluctuations, but this year it is going from worrying to downright scary," Mrs Dasler, who was one of the founders of the charity in 2000, said.
Also of great worry to her is the fact that around a third of those who make use of the charity are elderly residents.
The numbers could be higher still though as there are many people who are unwilling to make use of the help they provide, Mrs Dasler said.
"The demand is high but we always cope somehow - we perform the miracle of the loaves and fishes each day.
"There is no shame in coming here for a meal.
"The real shame is on employers who don't pay a living wage and on Government who don't pay a pension that the elderly can get by on."
Blenheim Salvation Army community ministries manager Joyce Somerville said that while they hadn't noticed a surge in the level of need, it did increase each year.
"After the [Canterbury] earthquakes more people have moved here and the need has also increased. It definitely goes up each year and the food bank gives out more parcels each year than the next," Mrs Somerville said.
An elderly Blenheim resident who uses John's Kitchen each week, Ken Price, said that he and his wife Margaret would not cope without the help they receive. She had recovered from illness thanks to food they got from the charity.
Another John's Kitchen regular Stuart Murray said that he was in each day, but didn't always have a meal. He liked to earn his meals by helping out as he was needed and enjoyed socialising.
"I definitely couldn't manage without them. We need these sorts of organisations to help people out," Mr Murray said.
The Marlborough Express