Women receiving less food than men in controversial Auckland beneficiaries trial

Women are receiving less food than men in a controversial trial with beneficiaries in Auckland.

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The Greens are asking for the Food Grant Trial to be stopped immediately. Source: 1 NEWS

The Social Development Ministry is carrying out a controversial trial, using the Otago Food Cost Survey - which tracks the annual cost of common food items - to calculate the size of food grants in Auckland. Under the trial, women aren't given as much money for food as men.

"I was allowed to have up to $60-something a week myself, and my partner was allowed $70. Now, how can you differentiate the difference between him and I with that amount of money?" food grant recipient Awhi said.

This week, 1 NEWS revealed nutritional experts running the food survey have serious concerns over the ministry's trial.

"I wouldn't be comfortable with it being used, especially for hardship benefits," Otago University's Claire Smith said.

While the Prime Minister sought assurances following the 1 NEWS report, saying she would "like to hear from the ministry about "the way that they're using that tool", the Greens said they have seen enough.

"The Greens would like it to be stopped. We don't want people going without food," Green spokesperson for social development Jan Logie said.

It appears the Ministry of Social Development doesn't understand the limitations of the survey, such as the assumption that people have access to basic ingredients and a kitchen to cook in.

Emails obtained by 1 NEWS showed one welfare advocate strongly objecting to the food survey being used for their client's food grant as they did not have anywhere to cook.

"He has got no cooking facilities and is also lacking many other items of personal hygiene and care - items which are not considered in the Otago food survey," the welfare advocate said.

The case manager responded, saying they had been ordered to use the Otago food survey calculator.

"I appreciate your concerns. However, this is the directive we have been provided," the Ministry of Social Development caseworker said.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni called the controversial trial an operational matter and said it can continue.