By David Hill
“Food security” has become a priority in Waimakariri’s Covid-19 recovery.
Councillors backed a plan to develop a “food secure district” at a council meeting held in the Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre on Tuesday.
In her presentation to the meeting, community team manager Tessa Sturley said funding of $690,000 has already been secured from the Ministry of Social Development for the project, with Satisfy Food Rescue as the fund holder.
The Ministry of Social Development has offered $10,400 from its Flexiwage scheme to assist with the employment of a community worker to support the project, with councillors approving a further $24,600 from the Covid-19 recovery fund to allow for an initial six month appointment.
Food security was identified as a “significant gap” by the Food Bank and Budgeting Collaboration, which was established during the lockdown, and by Social Services Waimakariri’s Covid-19 surveys, Ms Sturley says.
“We are seeing an increase in anxiety levels and mental health through our health sector networks, food banks are experiencing an increase in demand and we expect that to increase when the wage subsidy runs out.”
There was also expected to be an increase in family violence, alcohol and drug-related harm and social isolation.
The food security project has been identified as having “significant potential to empower locals affected by unemployment and social deprivation, through the provision of sustainable food supply, skill development and wrap around support”.
It is proposed to establish “a food surety base”, community hub and education centre, where people can learn to plant their own food.
There is also the potential to create a social enterprise to ensure the sustainability of the initiative, Ms Sturley says.
Mayor Dan Gordon says it is essential support is available for the “new at risk” in community.
It is envisaged the project will based at the proposed community hub for the Kaiapoi south regeneration area, which will house Satisfy Food Rescue, the Kaiapoi Menz Shed and the Kaiapoi Croquet Club.
Business and centres manager Simon Hart says while the economic outlook for Waimakariri is looking positive for now “many economists are still forecasting a significant economy”.
“We are mindful that while the economy is tracking well, there are some industries that are struggling.