3 September 2012
How does an agricultural country with a low population end up with 7.3 percent of New Zealanders experiencing low food security and a further 33.7 percent having moderate food security? (Ministry of Health/Otago University nutrition survey.)
Food security means having access to enough safe, nutritious food. Food banks, soup kitchens and school lunch programmes have become commonplace in New Zealand to meet basic food needs.
People who depend on these sources are still food insecure, because they do not have certainty about where their food will come from.
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) Vulnerability Report in March 2012 showed a continuing increase in food assistance from Church and community foodbanks and soup kitchens. However, there was a fall in special needs grants for food from Work and Income following tightened eligibility criteria.
Pam Waugh of the Salvation Army says no matter how frugal many families are, parents face tough choices – whether to pay the rent, school costs and power bills or feed the family.
‘If food wins over rent, they face eviction and homelessness and this is what we are seeing daily.’
Addressing food poverty in New Zealand can take into account such issues as the adequacy of incomes; the impact on local prices of high export-earning New Zealand produce such as milk; and the accessibility of healthier food options.
In response to hunger, Church and community groups are responding to meet immediate needs (such as through foodbanks), helping communities respond together to food access issues (such as through community gardens and markets), and advocating to address poverty and inequality.
For more information about events during Social Justice Week, September 9 – 15, visit Caritas.