More wage earners turn to Foodbank
Foodbank WA chief executive Greg Hebble for a story on the spike in demand he has seen from low-income families. Pic: Michael Wilson, WA News, 27th January2014.

Working WA families, some on double incomes, are struggling to buy food.

Foodbank WA chief executive Greg Hebble said the not-for-profit organisation had noted a rise in demand in the past year from low- income workers who could pay the mortgage, the electricity bill and send their children to school but struggled to afford groceries.

Demand for Foodbank supplies had usually come from people on welfare but that had changed.

"There are a lot more people out there and it's not necessarily people on the dole or the pension or anything like that," he said.

"Some are double income families but only earning $80,000 a year and they're struggling to put a roof over their heads.

"They'll pay $400 a week rent or on a mortgage and by the time they've paid all the utility bills and everything else, there's little left for food, so food seems to be at the end of the chain. .

"I've been here for 4½ years and I've never seen the same demand on us from those low-income earners.

"I've had many phone calls over the past 12 months in particular from people in that situation.

"It's the hardest phone call they ever make, having to call for help. You know, 'We've paid our mortgage, we've got credit cards, all that sort of stuff, but we're struggling for food on a weekly basis'.

"You can hear the quiver in their voices when they talk to you."

Mr Hebble said low-income earners now represented about 15 to 16 per cent of demand.

Foodbank's End of Hunger report last year showed the big shortfall between demand and supply, with more than 16,000 West Australians turned away from charities each month because of a shortage of food supplies.

Foodbank WA supplies charities with food rather than delivering food directly to those in need.

Mr Hebble said the report came as a surprise because the group believed it had been meeting demand.

Foodbank WA is working towards an expansion to include a new distribution centre at Perth Airport, potentially new sponsors and bringing in new food suppliers.

The West Australian

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