Food banks running low on supplies
Invercargill food banks are struggling to cope with growing demand for food parcels.
The Southland Food Bank Charitable Trust has endured its busiest January, February and March stretch since 2011 and one of the busiest since it started in 1991.
Chairman Peter Swain said the food bank had given out 155 food parcels between January and March this year, up from 119 during the equivalent time last year and 118 the year before.
"In the last few weeks, more has gone out the door than came in."
Swain said he did not know why it was busier but most people coming in had mentioned unpaid bills, medical expenses and power prices, he said.
The food bank had seen about six clients a day this year, from young mothers to working families, single people and pensioners.
Food parcels consisted of about $110 worth of food for a family or $80 worth for a single person and were enough to last about a week.
They included basic food items such as sugar, tea, Weet-Bix, noodles and tinned fruit, Swain said.
Food bank stocks came mostly from public donations of non-perishable food items and donations from community funders.
At present levels, and if no further donations came in, stock would last about two or three months.
The food bank would always make sure that people in need were given something, even if that was less than what would normally be included in a food parcel, Swain said.
Donations of non-perishable food could be made at New World, Pak 'n Save and SuperValue supermarkets.
Salvation Army Invercargill community ministries food bank co-ordinator Brenda King said there had been some quiet days between January and March but demand had picked up in the past three weeks.
Stock was diminishing and the organisation had run out of tinned spaghetti for the first time, she said.
The food bank would have to buy some supplies but always managed to keep going, King said.
Some of the main financial complaints had been vehicle expenses and cut or reduced benefits.
Both food banks are expected to get busier in the months until the end of winter.
Invercargill and Districts Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Sonya Donnelly stressed the importance of setting up automatic payments for fixed costs such as rent.
She also advised setting up a separate bills account, specifically for various expenses that came in each month.
The account could also be used for birthdays and car warrants of fitness and registrations, Donnelly said.
This made life "so much easier" for people on tight budgets.
The Southland Times