2022 – Missed meals and constant stress: New Zealand’s cost-of-living crisis hits home | New Zealand

sSome nights, Jesmy Evans had to eat the leftovers on her toddler’s plate. It has stopped buying meat, insulating its windows with plastic to save on heating bills, and has stopped fuel-intensive activities – but while you live frugally, it’s getting harder every day as the cost of living in New Zealand rises.

“Everything goes up, but revenue doesn’t go up in the same way — there’s a deficit,” Evans said.

The tireless fight over room and board costs takes a toll on Evan’s mental health. “You try to show up to your child and play and be happy, but there is always ‘Oh my God, what if something happens?’ “In the back of your mind.”

It adds that the sacrifices it makes – particularly in the area of ​​nutrition – also creates a “downward spiral” of increasing health care costs. “This concerns me all day, every day: How can we live like this?”

Families under pressure

Evans is one of a growing number of New Zealanders who are having to make tough decisions to make ends meet. Inflation is at a 30-year high, with annual food price inflation at 6.8% and fruits and vegetables at 10%. Ipsos surveys in June showed that the rising cost of living had replaced Covid-19 as the most pressing issue on New Zealanders’ minds.

As a result, people are trying to increase grocery budgets even further, with some making extraordinary efforts – New Zealand shoppers have asked for groceries from Australia to save money, others have turned to foraging, and more recently, some have resorted to eating garden snails instead. of toilet paper Use a water spray bottle to cut costs.

But for others, cutting their budgets isn’t an option – they simply don’t have the money, and as a result, families are starving.

A research article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand this week chronicled the experiences of six food-insecure single mothers. Women described the daily struggle to support themselves and their children, despite sacrifices or budget.

“Sometimes on a bad week I don’t eat at all just so there’s enough for the kids,” said a woman whose identity has been kept secret.

Each woman reported the stress of not being able to provide her children with nutritious food, missing meals regularly and feeling very hungry so her children could eat, and sometimes relying on food banks or donations from extended families.

“Without these food packages, the kids wouldn’t have eaten for about a week,” one participant said.

Inflation in New Zealand is at its highest level in three decades, with prices for fresh fruits and vegetables skyrocketing. Photo: Diego Videl/AAP

Organizations that help those in need are facing an unprecedented demand for food packages. The Christchurch City Mission has reported a 30% increase over the past year, while Auckland City Mission says demand for packages has tripled in the past three years.

The Government Health Survey 2020-2021 showed that about one in seven children (14.9%) live in homes where food has run out, and a similar number often eat less due to a lack of money or food, while 12.2% of children live in households that are used. food store Children living in the most economically vulnerable areas were at least six times more likely to be food insecure.

‘big hardship’

The women the researchers spoke to felt that the public was unaware of the severity of the situation for some families, and wondered to themselves how “their struggle could have been prolonged, especially given New Zealand’s relative wealth,” the study says. .

The paper cited insufficient income as the underlying root cause of household food insecurity, causing “substantial and continuing suffering” and requiring “systematic, coordinated and targeted responses.”

One noted, “Even if… instead of $60… I was like $100 a week… we wouldn’t have any problems.” Another suggested higher taxes on unhealthy foods and exempt basic foods from the tax.

Evans cited the cost of childcare as a major barrier to returning to work. She also hopes that communities will begin to think collectively – by letting forest companies allow local residents to collect waste wood for their fires, or to have neighbors help each other build food gardens.

More broadly, the study highlighted food insecurity as a major ongoing public health problem in New Zealand.

Retired Patricia Kahey, who lives north of Auckland with her newly retired husband, is another New Zealander who is feeling nervous.

They have developed strict shopping rules and saving techniques to ensure they are able to eat and have something on record for emergencies. The couple raised nine children, but Kahee can’t imagine being able to survive in the same situation these days. “It’s tough out there – I see some of my kids struggling – groceries are over the roof and rents are through the roof as well as gas,” she said.

To save money, Kahi makes all of its cleaning products, buys and cooks in bulk, and limits visits to the nearest town to once every two weeks to save gas.

“You have to be frugal… you have to save… because things haven’t gotten any better.”