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24 November, 2020

Supplement cuts spike foodbank demand

A Cairns charity is urging locals to clean out their pantries and donate any unwanted food items as demand spikes in the wake of cuts to the Coronavirus Supplement.

By Nicole Gibson

Anglicare North Queensland operates the Helping Hand Food Hub which offers low-cost grocery shopping and provides emergency food hampers to those who cannot afford to buy food.

To ensure the organisation had adequate supplies over the Christmas period, Community Outreach Program Manager Theresa Roberts encouraged locals to set aside a day to go through their pantries and give any unwanted food items to the charity.

“Normally in the lead up to Christmas we have a ‘Clear out your Pantry day’ where we ask people to go through their pantries to see what they’ve bought thinking that looks nice, but have never eaten,” Ms Roberts said.

She said it was really just about people working out what items they wanted and what they didn’t then making a donation.

In addition to staples liked tinned food and pasta sauce, Ms Roberts encouraged people to throw in a few luxury items if possible.

“It could just be a packet of Arnott’s ginger snaps,” she said. “When you’re on a fixed budget anything luxury literally goes out the window so a packet of sweet biscuits to somebody is a luxury.”

Ms Roberts said the organisation was starting to see the knock-on effect from reductions to the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement.

“Since the payments have gone down we are seeing an extra 15-20 people per day asking for help with food relief,” she said.

The total number of people seeking emergency help from Anglicare on a daily basis was about 40, in addition to the 220 people currently accessing the low-cost shopping hub.

Jobseekers and those on government benefits saw their payments drop by $300 per fortnight when the supplement reduced from $550 to $250 at the end of September.

The payment is scheduled to be rolled back all together on December 31.

People wanting to make a donation can give Anglicare a call on 4041 5454 to organise a pickup or donate directly to their office at 179 Lake St.

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