The Christchurch City Mission, one of the organisations receiving food support from charity Meat The Need, says they are providing approximately 200 more food parcels a month than they were this time last year.
The charity is one of the organisations receiving support from Meat The Need with donations of 500g mine packs, processed livestock donated from farmers and facilitated by Silver Fern Farms.
It’s a product that Wellington City Mission social supermarket general manager Jeremy Neeve says is incredibly expensive to buy and is desperately needed.
“Having that support is absolutely massive, it allows people to have a protein with their meal which is pretty hard to do without the assistance of Meat the Need,” Neeve says.
He says they see approximately 130 clients through the door a week, however that is on the rise with numbers growing every week.
“We know the cost of groceries generally is going up, we see that reflecting in the number of people coming to us for assistance. The increase we’re noticing is quite dramatic,” Neeve says.
He says that food insecurity and poverty is growing in Wellington and the high cost of rent and the high cost of living in the city are proving to be the main drivers.
“People don’t have enough money to feed themselves during the week and are getting themselves into debt to try and keep their heads above water.”
He says protein is important for the food packs they make so that people can make a pasta dish or give suggestions on what they can do with the mince.
“It’s really important that they get that protein because they can’t have it with every meal, so to be able to get it from a food supplier like Meat the Need is amazing for our people,” Neeve explains.
With a broad mix of clients coming through the city mission’s doors, some may be a once off who have had a massive bill that week meaning they need support and others are referred by outside agencies who have done work and discovered the person’s food is going to come up short.
“You really feel for them because they’ve had to come and ask for food to feed their family,” says Neeve.
He says he vividly remembers one situation where a man was standing in the queue and burst into tears saying he had never been treated so well in his life.
“He couldn’t believe what he was able to get in the supermarket and he had Meat the Need products and pointed it out saying ‘I didn’t think I would be able to get that here’.”
Neeve says that man never came in again, he was a one-off client who had a bill come in that he couldn’t reach.
Meat The Need will be hosting a live telethon next month, aiming to raise as many mince and milk meals as possible for food banks across New Zealand and it’s something Neeve says he wants to see the whole country get behind and support it.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to get that support and how desperately protein is needed for our people and families,” he says. “It’s a staple they wouldn’t otherwise get and it’s really, really appreciated by everyone.”