Exclusive: Food banks struggle to meet growing demand - report

Already struggling to find a place to live, now many of the poorest New Zealanders can't even get a meal.

They’re already struggling to find a home, now many of the poorest Kiwis can’t even get a meal. Source: 1 NEWS

A new report on the country's most vulnerable people has revealed the pantry is bare at many foodbanks and even emergency food grants are dropping. 

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services chief executive Trevor McGlinchey has been compiling the vulnerability report since 2009, and it finds "food insecurity" is the new norm.

"For many families, actually a normal part of their week is going to the food bank to see what they can get," Mr McGlinchey told ONE News. 

"The degree of needs, and the complexity of needs in the families our organisations work with, have actually got deeper and more entrenched over those six years."

We' don't have the resources - Rochana Sheward of the MPHS Community Trust

He says special needs food grants from Work and Income have decreased 28 per cent in the past six years. 

The Government says demand for food grants has decreased since a peak in 2010, and of those still asking for help, more applications are being accepted.

But Mr McGlinchey says it's community workers who are dealing with the spike in demand, and Rochana Sheward of the MPHS Community Trust in West Auckland agrees.

"It's the tip of the iceberg. We don't have the resources," she said. 

At the MPHS community centre, donated fresh produce is delivered to families in need almost as fast as it arrives.

Labour's Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says under-resourced non-government organisations are now stretched to capacity because they are dealing with increased workload "and they're not getting funded by the Government to do it".

The Government says it invests over $330 million in the social services sector.

"If they've got particular challenges they should continue to raise those with us and we'll look at them," said Prime Minister John Key.

The immediate challenge is helping as many families as possible to put food on the table.