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Government urged to connect the dots to help families facing food hardship

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In the second Covid-19 Lockdown Briefing, The Salvation Army is calling for urgent work to connect the Ka Ora, Ka Ako food in schools programmes to foodbanks in Auckland to ensure ongoing food security for those facing hardship during Alert Level 4.

The Salvation Army Covid-19 Lockdown Briefing focuses particularly on Auckland, as it currently remains under Level 4 lockdown restrictions.

While we welcome the Government’s aim to foster food networks in communities, we believe more use could be made of the community networks built around schools as the ongoing lockdown puts increasing stress on social sector foodbanks and distribution networks.

Immediate action is needed to boost incomes for households who face tipping into poverty as a result of reductions in income through lost employment or relying on the Wage Subsidy. The Salvation Army is calling for thresholds for access to income support to be adjusted so that those who are clearly struggling can receive further support in this crisis. Work and Income support policies that were implemented during the 2020 lockdowns have not been activated in 2021, leaving people with not enough to get by through the lockdowns.

We are seeing threefold poverty: lack of food, electricity and internet access. It is crucial that households are able to gain access to internet and devices so children can continue learning, and people can get the social and mental health support they need, as well as being able to seek employment through this time. These pressures come on top of continuing high housing costs in Auckland as well as other parts of the country.

The Salvation Army is deeply concerned about people who are homeless, who are sleeping rough or forced into over-crowded and unsuitable housing during the lockdown. More emergency housing is needed at this time.

We are calling on the Government to urgently implement the following changes:

Facilitate the connection between food in schools programmes in Auckland and foodbanks who are helping families from these schools, to support the gaps in food provision. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Ministry of Education, and Ka Ora, Ka Oka free school lunch providers must be mobilised better to support these children and families.

Monitor families who have exhausted their Work and Income entitlements to ensure they are receiving adequate support from Work and Income and/or community groups.

MSD needs to urgently increase income thresholds for access to support for people who receive the Wage Subsidy who are unable to meet living costs in Auckland during Level 4.

Increased support and housing for homeless and rough sleeping whānau is needed.

Provision of affordable and accessible internet to help people connect with education, social and income support.

To read the full report, go to: https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/covid19report

(Please note, the report will be available from 6am, Thursday September 16).

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