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May 17, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Recession Running Residents Ragged

New Zealanders continue to struggle as the recession rages

City Stop running out of fried chicken on a Saturday night may be a depressing blow for some Wellington students, but many New Zealand families are lacking more than just fried goods as a result of the continuing recession.

Hundreds of families and individuals throughout New Zealand are surviving on the bare minimum, as record numbers continue to strip Foodbanks bare.

The Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) is currently struggling to provide adequate food and shelter to those in need, despite donations.

DCM Director Stephanie McIntyre says that although there has been “generous support for the Foodbank this year, our shelves are once again empty with demand totally exceeding supply”.

Victoria University is also attempting to provide for struggling students with food and assistance through the Hardship Fund and VUWSA’s Foodbank.

VUWSA Welfare Vice-President Seamus Brady says there has been as “very noticeable increase” in the numbers of students needing assistance in getting food, as a result of the recession.

“We’ve increased this year’s budget to make sure we keep up with demand.

“Just the other Friday in the two hours the food bank was open we saw 20 students. It was madness.”

VUWSA has noted that the majority of Victoria students using the free bread and food parcel services are Architecture, Design and Science students hit with “unexpectedly high bills”.

The lack of jobs available for students is clearly having an impact, Brady says, as “over 60 per cent [of students] do not have regular hours of employment and survive off their student allowances or living costs”.

The free bread VUWSA provides on Wednesdays and Friday mornings definitely doesn’t go amiss, if you get up early enough.

“The service has got to the point where people are waiting for our office to open at 9am in order to get some,” says Brady.

The Salvation Army also currently faces the challenge of meeting food, shelter and budgeting assistance requirements for struggling families as they continue to run at capacity.

“Some may say the recession is over, but for many of these people their recession has just started. The people who come to us do so as a last resort; they have hit the bottom and many are often deeply depressed,” says The Salvation Army’s head of community services in the lower North Island Major Wendy Barney.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, the number of people seeking assistance throughout New Zealand has been steadily rising. Records show there has been an increase of 107 per cent in the number of food parcels distributed through the lower North Island region.

Foodbanks and organisations throughout New Zealand not only provide emergency food supplies, but also work to identify and address the underlying reasons for someone needing to access the foodbank. These services, such as budgeting and counselling, are therefore also under strain to meet the rising numbers needing assistance.

Students who need the VUWSA foodbank should have a look at www.vuwsa.org.nz for more information.

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