Some confronting news out of the Salvation Army this week - the majority of people asking for food parcels have never had to ask for help before: they are what's known as, the "working poor".

This comes in the same week that the City Mission in Auckland claims to have run out of canned food due to a 25 per cent increase in demand. Community workers claim it's the high cost of everyday living which is forcing families into a situation where they simply cannot afford enough food.

A large number of these families are not on benefits. They don't fit the preconceived notion of who might be using food banks.

These are hard-working families, struggling with high rents, petrol prices, health and education costs, who are finding there's just not enough left over to put food on the table.


This ought to give pause to all of us, but especially this current Government who have talked a lot about fixing this issue.

Closing the gap has never been an easy, straightforward task, and another tier of poor - the working poor - won't help make it any easier.

The fact that there are people in our communities having to choose to pay rent over buying food is heartbreaking. Especially when many of these people are employed in fulltime jobs, they are trying their best.

The working poor have largely been invisible. Not in enough hardship to grab headlines, not doing well enough to stay above the fray. They are lost somewhere in the middle. In the service industries, in factories, in hospitality, in retail.

Essentially, all around us, yet invisible. What it tells us is that just getting a job doesn't solve the poverty problem.

So can the Government find a way to remedy this? Well just this week we saw the pull back from the promise of cheaper doctor visits.

It was going to be $10 cheaper to see a doctor under Labour... until it wasn't.

Health Minister David Clark now says they don't have the money. Not yet anyway.


That's a shame, because I'd hazard a guess that the bulk of the people who voted for Labour would have done so for exactly this kind of reason.

Those at the coal face, in the communities working to assist the poor, the poverty stricken and those facing all manner of hardships, say it will take bold and courageous people to make the changes required to close the gap.

Let's hope this Government, alongside it's bold words, can also put their money where their mouth is.