Caitlin Neuwelt-Kearns, Alice Nicholls, Helen Robinson, Desiree Lowe, Ra Pope, Tracy Goddard, Micaela van der Schaaf – Auckland City Mission

Kelsey L. Deane, Allen Bartley – University of Auckland

Food insecurity continues to affect significant numbers of people in New Zealand, threatening physical and mental health and the ability to thrive or fulfil wellbeing. Following a survey engaging with over 600 food-insecure people, this study presents the analyses of open-ended survey responses about participants’ food insecurity experiences and their future goals and dreams.

The research shows that many people experiencing food insecurity aspire to fulfilling employment, financial security, and a good life for their whānau. Findings highlight how aspirations persist in the face of significant challenges and how those experiencing food insecurity are systematically constrained in their ability to achieve these. These findings indicate that current welfare policy settings are at odds with the Government’s focus on wellbeing, formalised in the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework and consecutive ‘Wellbeing Budgets’.

Key contributions

  • Addresses the experiences of food insecure people on a large scale, conveying the magnitude and impact of this for policy
  • Research findings that shift beyond the realities of those who are food insecure to examine their aspirations.
  • Findings that counter neo-liberal claims that people experiencing poverty lack ambition

Key policy implications

  • A more holistic approach to welfare support consider the conditions of paid work in relation to an individual’s circumstance
  • Apply the Living Standards Framework to welfare policy by extending the definition of wellbeing to more than just employment
  • Raise core benefits, rather than relying on supplements
  • Shift welfare policy away from a baseline of distrust and sanctions to one of trust
  • Make childcare more accessible
  • Simplify bureaucratic processes for accessing welfare

Read the entire brief ‘The realities and aspirations of people experiencing food insecurity in Tāmaki Makaurau’ here

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