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Tauranga Community Foodbank says a budgeting programme has helped cut the number of regular clients seeking help by 15 per cent.

Co-ordinator Nick Goodwin said the organisation had been working with Tauranga Budget Advice.

The courses had helped people change their financial situation, she said.

Tauranga Budget advice manager Diane Bruin said the four-week programme had been running since 2015.

The classes could accommodate a maximum of 12 per course and they had a steady number of people who wanted to manage their money better, she said.

“We cover planning, managing the household budget including teaching people how to read a bank statement and analyse their spending. Planning including menu planning, shopping and how to buy things. How to avoid high-interest debt and what are needs versus wants. We also cover savings, KiwiSaver and insurance.”

Mrs Bruin said they measured the success of the classes from feedback and the changes in behaviour of those who attended.

“Many participants have enjoyed it so much they have attended the next classes as well. Some are now working and the big win has been in empowering clients in enabling them to make better choices.”

They received a certificate of participation and an Easy Meals recipe book, she said.

However, while the number of regular clients using the foodbank had dropped, the service had seen an increase in new users, especially people who had recently moved to the city.

“We had seven new people to this foodbank last week. A high percentage were new to Tauranga, with some arriving that day, and needed assistance with food because all of their funds had gone on moving costs.”

Mrs Goodwin said many people were severely struggling. “I have noticed how close to the bread line they are. It doesn’t take a lot to tip people from having a home, paying rent and supporting their families, into having nothing.”

One man was a week from getting laid off from his job and he had nothing left, she said. “Everybody is spending what they earn just to live. There is no backup because wages don’t meet the cost of living.”

The service’s store of food was set to get a boost to help keep up with demand with Tauranga Boys’ College halfway through its annual appeal to collect food.

~ Ruth Keber, BOP Times

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