Government agencies referring people in need to unfunded foodbank The Kindness Collective

  • 26/03/2024

A foodbank says Government agencies like police and health agencies have been asking people needing support to get it from them - despite not being funded.

The Kindness Collective spent $42,000 on groceries in just one month to support thousands of struggling Kiwis.

Last week they helped 2256 people receive essentials.

The Kindness Collective chief executive and founder Sarah Page told AM the number of those needing help changes each week, but there's been "a really massive spike in need" in the past year.

"We're funded by the generosity of the community," she said, adding that individuals and businesses like The Warehouse and Tegel keep them running.

"We don't receive a dollar of Government funding and we're supporting multiple Government agencies every day.

"We're receiving referrals every single day from the New Zealand Police, or Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand), different hospitals, health boards, Oranga Tamariki (The Ministry for Children), Corrections even, Kāinga Ora - lots of social services."

Page said food was a human right and we should all have access to it, especially in a country like New Zealand that's plentiful.

"We're seeing a level of referrals similar to last year's flood and cyclones except there's no flood and there's no cyclone."

Page said the situation was "getting worse and worse every week" but they can't get any Government backing.

She said they met with Ministry of Social Development representatives last year but were told there isn't enough funding to go around.

Later on AM, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said he would be happy to meet with The Kindness Collective.

He said he visited another foodbank in Napier a couple of weeks ago.

"The staff in the foodbanks are doing an incredible job and what I observe as well is that you've got low and middle-income earners that are in foodbanks on record level numbers that didn't plan on being there or don't want to be there.

"But they need to be there because it's incredibly tough with rising inflation and with the cost of living crisis everyone's dealing with.

"Our Government is determined to fix the economy so Kiwis can get ahead."

Luxon said his Government was working to give Kiwis tax relief so they can "keep more of their own money in their own pocket".

However, when pushed on why Government agencies are referring people to the unfunded foodbank, Luxon reiterated their "incredible work" and said they're often funded by businesses.

"What we've got to do as a Government is actually deal with the fundamentals that are in front of us and that means we've got to lower inflation so those food prices come down," he said.

"We've made some good progress – inflation is tracking down, you saw food prices drop 9.3 percent just two weeks ago and we've had no further interest rate rises. So we're on the right track but there's a lot more for us to do."