Cost of living crisis: Some Aucklanders cut meals to cope

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The cost of living crisis is hitting the Kiwis. Video / NZ Herald

By RNZ

As food prices continue to rise, some Aucklanders say they are cutting meals to cope.

The latest figures from the Stats NZ Food Price Index were released today, showing groceries were 6.4% more expensive in April, compared to the same month last year.

Fruits and vegetables climbed 9.4% and meat, poultry and fish 8.4%.

“I only eat once a day and if I run out of food I ask my mum or sister,” Karen told RNZ Checkpoint outside WestCity Mall in Auckland’s western suburbs. Henderson,

She said she was looking for work and receiving benefits, but the money barely covered her expenses.

After rent, water and electricity, she said there was barely enough fresh fruit and vegetables, and meat was out of the question.

“I was doing landscaping and because of Covid and travel restrictions and all of that it got stupid, and the people I was working for, they couldn’t even support themselves, so I been let go,” Lola, another local, told Checkpoint.

The loss of work made it much harder to support herself and her son.

“The car came out…I’m fine. Because I understand that if I’m not fine, we won’t be fine.

“But I have used catering services more in the past three years than ever before.”

Situations like this are becoming more and more common in parts of Auckland. Fiona told Checkpoint that the cost of living was constantly on her mind.

Food prices continue to rise in New Zealand.  Photo/NZME
Food prices continue to rise in New Zealand. Photo/NZME

“It’s affected my sleep quite a bit. I have quite severe insomnia because I worry about what I’m going to do this week.”

Waitākere and Whangārei Regional Manager of Family Works, Alistair Houston, heard similar stories daily.

He took care of everyone, all kinds of budgets, benefits, parents with two jobs, people struggling with rent or mortgages.

“We will have to make difficult decisions in terms of priorities. Are they still paying the bills, or eating, or a bit of both? There’s real pressure on everything right now and if the fuel continues to mount, you can only see things getting worse.”

Some of its customers have effectively been trapped in a cycle, unable to pay to keep vehicles running, getting caught and therefore unable to get to work.

“Second time this person lost his job…car fails WOF [warrant of fitness] and then they couldn’t afford to go find another job because they couldn’t drive there.

“So we found a source to help fix that, which allowed them to go and get a job and get a job, and then come back to earn money again.”

Jan told Checkpoint she was relying on her pension while trying to pay off a mortgage.

“I was forced out of my job due to an accident, so going from $800 a week to $300 a week pension is even harder.”

For Rachel and her husband, supporting their two growing boys was becoming increasingly difficult.

“It’s tough. The boys eat a lot. The prices, some things just went up, like cheese in particular. It was like $10 and it’s gone up at least $5.”

Lola said she fears more community members are turning to other ways to cope.

“Drugs – there’s a lot of them here. The gangs, they’ll eat you up. They want you to start selling drugs for them. You’ll make money.”

Those who spoke to Checkpoint – parents, seniors, workers and job seekers – show that the rising cost of living is affecting many.

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