Food banks need help all-year round
We've all seen the end-of-year campaigns asking us to donate food to needy families so they can enjoy a memorable tummy-filled Christmas too.
While it's a great reminder to remember the reason for the season, it's also easy to forget that poverty is a year-round issue. Thank God for the Sallies and other food bank providers.
In 2016, the Salvation Army distributed 55,425 food parcels to Kiwi families in need. Food parcels don't appear out of thin air though; the Sallies rely on donations from individuals and businesses to perform its lifesaving work.
One organisation doing its bit to make it easier for New Zealanders to donate food is The Foodbank Project.
This is a not-for-profit, self-sustaining online grocery store that makes it easy for anyone to donate pantry essentials online.
Founder Galen King set up the website with the idea that if people could see stats and infographics demonstrating the level of need – and how much (or how little) Kiwis are actually giving day-to-day – they'd be more inclined to donate more generously. Plus making a donation online is easier than dropping physical goods into collection boxes for many busy Kiwis.
But you might be surprised that food isn't the only thing needy families are in desperate need of. Among the most-needed goods on The Foodbank Project website are toilet paper, soap and toothpaste. They seem like obvious essentials, however if the weekly food allowance isn't going to cover the grocery bill, they're often the first products to be dropped off the list in favour of food.
Another scenario that might not instantly be associated with a food bank is women's hygiene. Pads and tampons are not cheap (there's an ongoing discussion in and around Parliament about removing the GST applied to them to make them more affordable) and unfortunately they're the kinds of products that are left off the grocery list if food is also a priority. Some Kiwi teenagers miss out on a week of school every month because they don't have access to sanitary products, or are forced to use unhygienic replacements like rags or old towels.
Cleaning products are also essentials for many needy Kiwis. Homes that are dirty are also unhealthy so access to toilet and surface cleaners give families freedom in cleanliness. And other products such as deodorant, shampoo and toothbrushes are hardly labelled as luxuries, yet many Kiwi families are forced to keep them off their shopping lists for the sake of buying food.
Neighbourly is a great platform to support these kinds of worthy community organisations. If you have a food bank near your place that you know could use a little more support, why not set up a donation drive on Neighbourly and encourage your community to contribute. For more information about The Foodbank Project, visit foodbank.org.nz.