DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ
In demand: The City Mission has been giving out record numbers of food parcels. Mission volunteer Sandra Sanders fills more bags for distribution.
More than 2400 food parcels were handed out to needy Christchurch families by the City Mission in March, almost double the pre-earthquake number in March 2010.
Nine thousand eggs, 2200 loaves of bread, 1800 toilet rolls, 1600 bags of cereal and thousands of tins of fruit, bags of rice and pottles of yoghurt were distributed by the mission in March this year, totalling almost $60,000.
City Missioner Michael Gorman said the 2440 parcels could be the highest number handed out by the mission in a single month.
"We have seen a 100 per cent increase, and the type of people we are seeing are no longer just those who are perhaps suffering from addictions, on the benefit or vulnerable and struggling to cope," he said.
Some desperate people had turned to the mission for support because their finances had been soaked up from shifting three or four times after the quakes, their working hours had been slashed or their rents had increased in the city's housing shortage.
"It's the people who don't show up in statistics that we are seeing," Gorman said.
"The ordinary people who have not needed welfare agencies before need us now, and some who are lining up to get help from us used to donate to the mission or volunteer here."
Workers with reduced hours were still deemed to be employed and therefore hidden from unemployment statistics, and those battling with crippling rent increases did not show up in housing statistics because they were not eligible for the Housing New Zealand emergency waiting list, he said.
Gorman was "shocked" by the number of people queuing up outside the mission last Friday.
The waiting room was full and about 15 people were lined up outside the front doors, he said. "I haven't seen a line like that since last Christmas. The effects of the earthquakes are really kicking in now," he said. "People are no longer as resilient as they once were."
The mission's social workers were facing a similar demand. Seventeen people walked into one worker's office on Monday, and a spokeswoman for the social workers said it was the "employed or partly employed people, who had never needed us before, in need of assistance now".
In March 2010, the mission handed out 1289 food parcels. It fielded an increase of 1151 parcels in the same month this year.
The Salvation Army has also seen the number of food parcels handed out this year nearly double, compared with pre-quake 2010.
He estimated 40 per cent of the increase was made up of people who would never have needed help before the February 2011 quake.Major Mike Allwright said 504 food parcels had been distributed in March 2010, with 953 handed out in the same month this year.
The chief executive and founder of the 0800 Hungry food bank, Kerry Bensemann, said the agency delivered about 1300 food parcels a month, some to rough sleepers living in their cars.