Food banks install new phone system to deal with rise in abusive calls

A Christchurch food bank has had to install a new phone system to record calls after an increase in abuse from clients.

0800-hungry delivers about 200 food parcels a week in Christchurch, and has done so for about 20 years.

Warehouse supervisor Nicky Bensemann said there has always been some abuse from people.

"A lot of it you can let wash over your back, but it has got worse," Bensemann said.

"The world seems to be after instant gratification, and if they ring up on a Friday afternoon they expect to be fed before the weekend. It would be a dream come true if that did happen.

"We always ask for people to ring earlier in the week so we can make sure they are fed before the weekend. When that doesn't happen you start getting called all the names under the sun and it's all your fault that they're starving and it just becomes intolerable."

Bensemann said they have had people deny they were abusive after being banned, and the new phone system will record calls so they can keep proof of what has happened.

She said they deliver food directly to people's homes so cannot risk sending a volunteer to the home of someone who has previously been abusive.

Bensemann said she would ask those calling in to remember the workers are all volunteers, and are trying to help.

"They don't know what our background is, what our history is, what our home life is like and we still have to put on a happy face for them."