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Auckland City Mission calls on Government to track food poverty as problem rises

The Auckland City Mission wants the Government to start tracking food poverty.

CEO Chris Farrelly said that New Zealand is the only country in the OECD that does not officially keep a record of peoples eating habits.

He said it is about the quality of food as well as quantity.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni argues that information is captured elsewhere, including in the UNICEF’s 2017 Report Card on children in richer nations.

New Zealand is rated alongside other countries for ‘food insecurity’ and came out in the better half of the OECD, including against Australia, UK and US.

“I think the government already has a very clear idea of the number of food grants that are given out and there are other ways in which they’re capturing that information,” Ms Sepuloni said.

The City Mission has seen a big increase in the number of people coming forward for help as it heads into the festive season.

Over the next two weeks it plans to hand out over 8000 family food parcels, which will provide 75,000 meals.

Work and Income has also noticed a 50 per cent increase in demand for food grants over the last two years.

In the year ending March 2018, it handed out 518,000 food grants costing close to $15m.

About 20,000 food grants were declined.

“If someone comes into a Work and Income office we check their eligibility for any other supports that they might need. That’s why we've seen a steady reduction in the number of people getting declined,” Ms Sepuloni said.

Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Ricardo Menéndez March said people are being turned away on “really arbitrary issues” like not attending a budgeting course.

“In areas where there’s regional inequity such as south Auckland, Manurewa has seen the brunt of the housing crisis as well as rising costs of petrol and food,” he said.

“Number one thing we know is that it comes down to the cost of housing,” Ms Sepuloni said.

Food grants have soared by 50 per cent over the past couple of years.
Source: 1 NEWS