Living Waters Pastor Wiremu Te Taniwha says he has noticed an increase in the demand for food on the island and that not only beneficiaries are looking for accommodation. Workers also can’t afford rents due to high living costs and low wages. Photo Silvia Massa

Waiheke food rescue groups Kai Conscious, the Living Waters Church and Waiheke Budgeting Services have noticed an increase in people enquiring about food at their foodbanks and 24-hour pantries.

“There is regularly a queue formed by 11[am] at our premises in anticipation of the food rescue drop-off each day. Our foodbank is also under increased pressure,” says Waiheke Budgeting Services coordinator Amelia Lawley.

Amelia says the reasons for such an increase are very clear – high rents, increased interest rates for middle-income-earning mortgagees, soaring petrol prices and the ever-rising costs of food. Also, static low wages and benefit levels are not meeting the costs of living.

“We have farewelled many client families in the last few weeks. People just cannot sustain their lives here. It is very worrying for us seeing this level of need as we are not funded at all for food provision,” says Amelia. “We are very appreciative of the mahi done by the Waiheke Resources Trust food rescuers and of the unwavering support of the Waiheke community in donating to us.”

During Covid, the demand for food rescue was also high and hasn’t dropped since.

At Living Waters, Pastor Wiremu Te Taniwha says that not only beneficiaries are coming to the church requesting food and accommodation, but also workers who can’t afford rent due to the low wages. He also says that the island’s demand for food has definitely increased.

“Every week, we have to turn two or more people down because we don’t have accommodation available for them,” says Wiremu.

The pastor says he has received less rescue food from Countdown than previously. Last year, he used to pick up 10 to 15 food parcels every week and now he only picks up one. 

Countdown store manager Sajeevan Velautham says the reason they have fewer food boxes to give away is that the supermarket is focusing on quality.  • Silvia Masa

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