Friday 21 June 2024

The Mission faces turning people away at the door

Unless the Government funds food security in the budget, Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai will have to turn families in greatest need of food away.

The government has indicated that in the 2024/25 budget there will be very little funding for provision for food, even after a direct appeal from Auckland City Missioner – Manutaki, Helen Robinson. The only funding that has been confirmed is 3.5% of the Mission’s total spend towards food parcel provision.

Since the onset of COVID, the Mission and other agencies had received support for food, although at a declining rate since 2020.

Now the Mission, and other social agencies, face the prospect of significantly reduced food services resulting in many individuals and families not getting the nourishment they need or deserve. “Without the support of government, at the Mission we will have to drastically reduce the amount of food we can give families in need from 50,000 food parcels to 20,000 food parcels annually. That is a reduction of over 50% from 1 July of this year,” says Robinson.

“This lack of appropriate Government investment will result in immediate hardship for families already struggling in tough times. We are facing the dire reality of providing 27,000 fewer meals every week for parents and children who will not have enough food to stay physically and mentally well, not enough to go to school or to work, not enough to contribute well to society. It’s a deeply upsetting and concerning prospect.”

During COVID-19, funds for a food security response were provided for the first time by any government. That helped the Mission and other social service agencies – who were each already supporting families unable to afford enough food – to meet the significantly increased demand due to the pandemic’s economic impact.

“The funds provided by MSD for food security since COVID were appreciated. They meant that hundreds of thousands of people who would have otherwise not had enough food could better meet their families’ health and wellbeing needs,” Robinson says. “Although COVID is no longer disrupting lives in the same way that it was, its long-term economic impact along with the current cost of living crisis, means food insecurity is still a desperate reality for many thousands of families. The funds have been reduced but the need hasn’t.”

Robinson says that all means more people need more support for food. Currently, one in five New Zealanders do not have enough food to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

Reduced funding over the last year has already resulted in foodbank closures putting pressure on those who, like the Mission, have continued to provide a food service.

To help meet this new baseline of demand, on behalf of New Zealand and the Mission, Robinson had asked the Government for the previous level of support to be reinstated. Although she is grateful that
her request was acknowledged, the indication is that the need won’t be met – and she worries that without the funding confirmed, people will continue to suffer.

“As a country, we are badly letting down those families most suffering the indignity and harm of not having enough food to meet their needs. Funding cuts cut potential – that’s the reality.”

Robinson says the cost of not providing the food needed will, at the simplest level, increase pressure across our health and criminal justice systems, and result in lost productivity. She notes this could be avoided by maintaining previous funding.

“We would welcome an opportunity to work with the government to find a solution for us to continue to provide a highly effective service, combining Government support with Mission donations, expertise and time. We need government support for long term solutions to create a food secure country.”

She is hopeful at this late stage, the Government will reconsider and provide funds. That will help the Mission distribute food to families who suffer the reality of poverty so they can engage in education, employment, and positive social connections.

The Mission’s winter appeal, Nourish A Little Normal, launched this month, raising funds for food. To donate or to find out more information, please visit

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