Foodbank, a choice option

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Salvation Army Ashburton Corps officer Elizabeth Walker-Ratu in the Salvation Army's new supermarket-model Foodbank.
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The Salvation Army’s new supermarket-modelled foodbank has opened in Ashburton.

It’s giving people in need the choice to select food products to suit their families.

Salvation Army Ashburton Corps officer Elizabeth Walker-Ratu said it is a supermarket model, using points instead of money.

There are fresh vegetables, chiller products, frozen bread and meat, non perishable food items, as well as personal care products.

‘‘Everything in here will be based on one to five points. When someone comes in – based on family size – we’ll say grab 60 points and they can go around and just choose,’’ she said.

With each foodbank item worth points, budgeting skills will get used as well.

‘‘They can just take one thing but we will encourage them to get an entire shop – what is it you need for the whole week? what is it you need for your family to eat?’’

The new set up was predominantly funded from donors, and large donations from Community Trust Mid and South Canterbury, The Kelliher Trust and A R Edgar & The General Charitable Fund South Canterbury who were represented at the opening, along with other community agencies and Salvation Army church members.

The foodbank is used by a variety of people and typically has 15 to 25 individuals or families of up to nine or 10 people a week using the service. ‘‘They don’t eat the same type of food. One size does not fit all anymore. So we are trying to give people back a bit of choice,’’ Elizabeth said.

There are also recipes available so people can learn what to do with some items, such as squash or zucchini.

‘‘If you have never eaten (squash) you don’t know what to do with it … or in zucchini season, we get so many, they are so good for people, they bulk up food but if you don’t really know what they are, you don’t buy them.’’ She said someone will be in the foodbank to help share some of that knowledge, and inform people of options to help their points go further. It could include adding a tin of chickpeas to a mince dish to boost the protein and make the mince go further.

‘‘We are looking at food security … and looking at not wasting as well. If you are not going to eat something then what is the point of us giving it to you. Because it’s not helping them and its not helping us.

‘‘It’s not helping our donors because they’ve given us something that we don’t know if someone is going to use it and we want to honour what they do by giving to us as well.’’

The foodbank remains at the Salvation Army church on Cass Street, in converted unused office space. Observing items people choose will help the Salvation Army streamline their service.

‘‘We’ll be able to see easier what food people are choosing, so we potentially won’t bring in food that isn’t going to go back out,’’ Elizabeth said.

‘‘We have seen an increase recently and we are expecting to see it continue to climb, unfortunately, and again, that is why we wanted to have this model ready.’’

Donations to the foodbank can be made Monday to Thursday from 9am to 1pm, and, people in need of assistance – or budgeting advice – can contact the office by phoning 308 7610