With a growing number of families in need, social services provider Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN) is gearing up for a tough winter ahead.
The charity, which covers an area from Taupō to Whangārei, is currently spending $10,000 a month on groceries for emergency parcels.
It is also working with more families who have no money left in the kitty for anything else after paying fixed expenses like rent, power, water, and petrol.
PSN Chief Executive Bonnie Robinson says the issue has become so acute that the organisation is appealing for financial assistance to help meet demand.
“Many of the families our Family Works service help have to make a difficult choice – do they heat or eat this winter?
“Furthermore, when the fuel tax subsidy finishes at the end of June, we can’t see how people will be able to incorporate higher prices at the pump into budgets already hit by higher costs of living.”
PSN’s Family Works service supports and strengthens families through budgeting, social work and counselling services, parenting and non-violence programmes, and supporting people to achieve food and housing security.
Bonnie Robinson says that for families already under pressure, having to choose between heating and eating aggravates what they are already dealing with. It adds another layer of stress on top of everything else.
“People are doing what they can. For instance, our Auckland budgeting service is seeing more families, with both parents working, coming in because they are struggling to meet weekly living costs.
“They often have high levels of debt and services like AfterPay have enabled them to live on borrowed money. Some have been advised by their banks to apply for a KiwiSaver Hardship Withdrawal. However, some of our families don’t have this option.”
Bonnie Robinson says with higher food costs, families are left with nowhere to turn except to ask for kai parcels.
“Our Communities Feeding Communities initiative in Mt Roskill in Auckland has seen demand steadily increase to the point where we’re spending $10,000 a month on food for emergency food parcels on top of the regular food donations we receive from food suppliers and supporters.
“We stock our pātaka kai twice a day with food and members of the community stock it as well, but such is the demand it is often emptied within half an hour.
Preparations are already underway at PSN to meet the expected surge in demand. In addition to stocking up on the essentials, winter crops have been sown in its Mt Roskill Communities Feeding Communities gardens. When these are ready, they will be harvested, bagged and put into the pātaka kai for families to help themselves to.
“Come the end of June, we are expecting to see people who have never asked for help before, so we’re asking for financial donations to help meet the extra demand,” Bonnie Robinson says.
The PSN Family Works Winter Campaign will run from 1 June to 31 August. To donate, please click here.