Non-Christian volunteers not wanted by food bank organiser

17:00, Jul 30 2010

A Christchurch food bank wants volunteers to deliver its food parcels, but only if they are Christian.

Kerry Bensemann, a born-again Christian who runs the 0800 Hungry food bank, said he was unable to keep up with the demand because the church community was not behind him.

He said many of the 120 orders could not be delivered on Friday last week, and he had the same problem on Thursday.

Bensemann, a former truck driver, said that while the warehouse had adequate staff, the charity's policy was that parcels could be delivered only by members of a church.

He said many church groups were unwilling to help when asked if they could deliver food in their area. One group had told him it was too busy.

He said he had turned down help from non-religious people.

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"I know it sounds really, really stupid, but you've got to understand how we're set up."

He said the aim was to increase church involvement, and having the food delivered by non-religious volunteers would defeat the purpose.

"It's like sending someone who plays ping-pong out to play for the All Blacks."

He said he was not attacking church groups, but wanted to encourage them to do more.

Other food banks said they were thankful for any volunteers. City Missioner Michael Gorman said the organisation had its roots in the Anglican Church, but it welcomed any volunteers.

The Press