Interest rate pressure on homeowners is driving increased demand for food donations, says Adelaide charity


Homeowners facing cost of living stress due to rising interest rates and other inflationary pressures are becoming a new group of people seeking food donations in Adelaide, according to a charity and a social support group.

The Reserve Bank has raised interest rates seven times this year and Adelaide house prices have continued to rise despite the national downward trend.

Energy and grocery costs also continue to rise.

Puddle Jumpers, a charity that donates food and other goods to families in need, is now only allowing people to take out one pantry item at a time, although fruit, vegetables and baked goods are increasingly readily available.

Mandy Norris regularly appeals to a food aid charity and has noticed a decrease in the availability of pantry items.(ABC News: Simon Goodes)

The organization posted on Facebook that it had noticed people accessing its services for the first time.

“There were almost 600 people who came through the doors in a few days and we had people who had tears because they were so grateful to receive help,” the organization wrote on social media. .

Mandy Norris, who lives in Prospect with her two sons, regularly uses support from Puddle Jumpers.

She said she was “just grateful they could help”.

“We found them really helpful when we struggled from week to week to buy food and feed the kids. They were amazing,” she said.

But Ms Norris, who also relies on housing assistance from Housing SA, has noticed the reduced availability of larder items and attributes it to increased demand driven by cost of living pressures.

“People are crying out for free food and meals,” she said.

“I lost my job. I broke my foot so I didn’t get a job…so we’re struggling.

“It’s just me and my two boys living here and I support them myself.

“There’s also a lot of homeless people because they can’t find rentals – it’s too expensive – so there’s definitely high demand these days.”

A woman with blonde hair wearing a black polo shirt
Melanie Tate, Founder and CEO of Puddle Jumpers.(Provided)

Puddle Jumpers chief executive Melanie Tate said the organization was facing “unprecedented demand” for its services, with the number of people coming for food each week in the western suburbs rising from 150 to 600.

“We are seeing these massive requests from people in need of food aid and from people who have never asked for it before,” she said.

“Also, as things are a little lighter on the donation side, things like schools or workplaces or even places in the food industry who donate to us.”

She said it might be embarrassing for people to ask for help for the first time and she urged people not to be judgemental.

“There are families who have never had to ask for it before and my experience is that they feel really embarrassed to ask for help,” she said.

“It’s pretty huge because they’re worried about the judgments they might get from people saying, ‘Well, you know, if you own a house…'”

“You may be struggling to make ends meet and want to keep your house, and selling it could lose money anyway.

UHT milk and other items on the shelves
Puddle Jumpers limits pantry items to one per family.(Facebook: puddle jumpers)

“Or people who might have a luxury car, well, they might have inherited that car or they might have it on a payment plan or they might have received that, so selling that car is actually going to be detrimental to this family compared to keeping the car.

“But then they might need a little help with basic necessities, like food, to get through this really tough time.”

Rental prices have risen dramatically across South Australia over the past two years, leading to many people entering the housing market to find accommodation.

South Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Ross Womersley said interest rate increases were piling up for these people and a range of organizations were facing the same problem as Puddle Jumpers.

“We know that there is a group of people who have been tricked into taking out mortgages in order to access housing and in doing so they may have gotten on all fours not only to buy and pay their mortgage – their home – but also paying for many items in their household,” he said.

“These people are now squeezed as interest rates go up, not only because of increases in mortgage rates but also because of increases in other debt services like bank cards and things that will have much higher interest rates.”

Puddle Jumpers recently attempted to open new distribution centers in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, but council approvals have been delayed due to the upcoming election.

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