Expected to be a temporary measure, the Hamilton Combined Christian Food Bank is still in business after 20 years.
That time of the year is approaching when the stress on the budget often means shortcuts are taken everywhere. But when it comes to food, people need to eat, and the Hamilton Combined Christian Foodbank is making its annual appeal for donations of food.
Issues facing those struggling to make ends meet include the cost of housing, casualised employment and seasonal work often sees increasing numbers of individuals and families approach the food bank for help over the festive season.
Food bank co-ordinator Louisa Humphry, who has performed the management role for 10 years, said demand went through waves and there didn't seem to behave in any predictable fashion.
"With the recent increase in benefits we expected demand to reduce, but it didn't.
"It seems to show that whatever extra people received it disappeared in other expenses.
"We see a lot people with trouble finding work.
"Their benefits have been suspended because they can't afford to run a car and can't get to work, they're not on-line because a computer connection costs too."
The food bank has regular meetings with Work&Income to talk over specific cases.
"Winz staff also did a big food collection drive last Christmas.
Figures provided by the foodbank show in its first full year of operation 1999-2000, it spent $173,256 and provided 3145 food parcels.
The most recent full year, 2017 — 2018 it spend $244,762 on 4052 parcels catering to 6956 adults and 6308 children.
The HCCFB provides about 75 per cent of food-aide in Hamilton with the Salvation Army making up the remainder. Much of the financial support for the HCCFB comes from charitable donors, the congregations of its constituent church groups and many schools around Hamilton help with regular food collections.
Manager of the Hamilton Budgeting Advisory Trust Tony Agar said the cost of housing was a major factor.
"The average national rental is $447 a week and there's 590,000 people renting so it's a big problem. There is a shortage of affordable rental property in Hamilton and a lot more people in temporary accommodation."
High levels of debt, pay-day loans with very high rates of interest, clothing trucks and far-too-easy access to credit and finance all combine to put some people into untenable financial situations, he said.
Last year the HBAT conducted 1700 one-on-one mentoring sessions with 900 clients and ran 124 financial management workshops which attracted 400 participants.
Among the volunteers who keep the foodbank operating are Jack and June Mans, both in their 80s.
The former Ōtorohanga dairy farmers have been making weekly deliveries of made-up food parcels to church distribution centres around Hamilton for the past 20 years.
Anyone interested in donating food are asked to provide non-perishable items including tinned meat, fish, vegetables, stews, soups, baked beans and spaghetti, tinned tomatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, milk powder, cereals, tea, coffee and drink sachets.
Food can be delivered to the Methodist City Mission 62 London St.
Due to construction activity, access is signed from Harwood St between the car park and the old Workingmen's Club building. For further details call Wendy 07 839 3917 or email firstname.lastname@example.org