Rotorua whānau go without food to pay bills

7:35 pm on 19 September 2017

Rotorua locals say whoever is voted into government this weekend needs to address the fact so many families are struggling to put food on the table.

Fresh groceries sit on the kitchen table of a low income family's home.

Families are struggling with the high cost of living. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Huhana Gardiner is a mother-of-four and picks up kai at Love Soup Rotorua's fruit and vegetable drop-off to help feed her whānau.

Ms Gardiner said she usually visits the drop-off twice a week because the high cost of living was especially tough for her and her son, Tamehana, 14, who has autism.

"With a son like mine [life is] very hard - he's very high needs autism spectrum disorder, non verbal and obesity to the point where he doesn't even go to school anymore."

She said the fruit and vege pick up was a lifesaver for her whānau due to high supermarket prices at the moment.

Despite the country being in the midst of an election campaign, Ms Gardiner said she has little time to invest in politics.

"I'm just going with the flow trying to do the wake up for my kids - I sort of haven't got into the politics side of things hard out like I should."

Gina and Elmer Peiffer

Love Soup Rotorua's Elmer Peiffer (right). Photo: Love Soup Rotorua

Love Soup Rotorua co-founder Elmer Peiffer said an important election issue for him was tenancy law.

Mr Peiffer said he liked Labour's policy around extending notice periods to 90 days and abolishing no-cause terminations.

He said he had seen first-hand how a home could change someone's life when he helped find a home for a man who had been homeless for 20 years.

"Once he was housed and he had power and he had everything organised for him every second word was beauty - the vulgarity just disappeared because he was happy."

Healthy food changes students' attendance rates and attitudes - principal

Ka Pai Kai Rotorua was started in Tokoroa in September 2016 and provides healthy lunches to four schools.

The lunches are prepared at the Waikite Rugby Clubroom kitchen, and volunteers then deliver the lunches.

Ka Pai Kai Rotorua chair Jasmine Jackson is a nutritionist and said it could be difficult for schools to provide healthy lunches.

"They're just so pushed for time and spare hands that most of them only have the capacity to heat up pies or sausage rolls and things like that."

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Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hurungaterangi Photo: Screenshot / Google Maps

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hurungaterangi is one of the schools that receives lunches.

Principal Oriana Lemon said she had noticed a difference in students' attendance rates and attitudes, and the government should step in to support initiatives such as Ka Pai Kai.

Without the lunches, many children would go without food during the day, she said.

"When you see our kids with a smile on their faces and knowing they're going to have a kai but it's not just a kai but a healthy hearty kai - we really appreciate that."

Ka Pai Kai Rotorua is looking to extend its lunches to other schools in Rotorua next term.

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