The Lower Hutt Community Foodbank has a new home and is now located at 27 Dudley Street, in the Hutt CBD. The lease was signed just 2 days before having to vacate the Council owned premises at 47 Laings Road.
The Foodbank Committee are very grateful to have secured the new lease on Dudley Street as the alternative would have been to go into recess. The Committee is also grateful to NZ Van Lines for providing their services for the shift. A big thank-you also goes to the Hutt City Uniting Congregations Parish, Sts Peter & Paul Catholic Parish, Petone and Eastbourne Lions, Pencarrow Rotary Club, and various organisations and individuals who have so generously responded to the call for rent sponsorships, and have made the move possible. The Hutt community support for the Foodbank has been, and continues to be outstanding.
It is disappointing that after 15 months of discussion with the Council for a new home no progress was made. The Council seemed intent on pushing their solution on us with total disregard for meeting our requirements, which were pretty basic.
The first requirement was that we needed a central CBD location, to be near main public transport routes, and to many of the other agencies we work closely with such as Work & Income, Supergrans, Community Mental Health, Refugee Services and Budgeting Services, to name a few. Our second requirement was to have sufficient space for food storage and our operation, approximately 100 sm.
The Council offered two options for a peppercorn rental, the first being 2 x 40 foot shipping containers on land next to the Epuni Hall, and the second being a former Plunket building in Moera. Both options were well short of meeting the Foodbank requirements with respect to space and location. The shipping containers offered just 56 sm of space and the Moera building was less than that. Neither of the two options were in the CBD which would have added to the burden on clients without their own transport as it meant they would have to walk or pay for a second bus ticket from the central city.
A new home for the Foodbank provided by the Council at a peppercorn rental would have been great. However the solution has to be workable and neither of the above options offered were workable.
A survey undertaken by the Foodbank of volunteers, clients, partner agencies and community supporters showed that over 95% of respondents agreed that the Foodbank had to remain in the CBD. The survey also indicated that 87% of the respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that clients would face an increased burden of transportation cost and time if the Foodbank were located outside the CBD. In addition, the survey indicated that approximately 40% of the current volunteers, including our coordinator could be lost to the Foodbank if it were relocated outside of the CBD.
The Foodbank Committee believes it has made not only the right choice but the only choice with respect to our new home. There was no other viable option. The Council refuses to offer the Foodbank any financial support and does not believe it is sustainable in the long term for the Foodbank to pay a CBD commercial rent. They may be right. Time will tell.
At least the Foodbank Committee is trying to do the right thing for those who need assistance. With continued support from the Hutt Community we will continue to provide this much needed and utilized community service - with or without Council support.
Please Note: We are expereiencing delays in establishing a phone line into our new premises. We hope to have this issue resolved in the near future. In the meantine please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org