Caritas Macau have reported a 10 percent increase in the number of people using their food bank service in the first seven months of this year, compared to last year.
According to a report by TDM, a total of 2,700 people used the food bank service between January and July of this year. The charity group states that this increase may be due to the change in location of the food bank.
The food bank is currently located in Ilha Verde, closer to the social and economic housing area.
“People can apply for the food supply service more easily. Some of the services rely on networks such as social workers that will need to transfer them to the food supply service,” said Mok Lai Shan from the Caritas Food Bank Center to TDM.
According to Mok, many of the applicants are working through a time of financial hardship. Mok adds that Caritas will assist them in seeking employment and other forms of aid.
“We would evaluate their status and see what kind of problems they have,” Mok said.
“Some families believe that they have a need but most of the time, they’re afraid to use the service.”
Mok shared that some families thought that if they decided to use the service, they would be labeled a hindrance to society. However, one of the advantages of the service is that applicants will receive help and support more easily upon establishing a relationship with social workers. Caritas said that they would transfer applicants to different districts if the need exceeded the Ilha Verde branch’s ability to provide support.
The food bank program has been managed by Caritas since September 2011.
Last year, the short-term food assistance program helped over 2,000 families. Those families included over 3,000 individuals.
Secretary General of Caritas Macau, Paul Pun, said to the Times last year that the reach of the food bank program was gradually increasing as citizens become more aware of its existence.
However, Pun noted that some low-income residents were uncomfortable accepting food assistance from the government, often finding it embarrassing to accept food aid.
He added that Caritas hosts dialogues among these families from low-income backgrounds, encouraging them to participate in the food bank program. Caritas explains the benefits of the program to these families in a compassionate, non-stigmatizing way.
Currently, there are also individuals who live in Coloane participating in the food bank program, as several families have relocated from central Macau to the Seac Pai Van public housing complex.