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NT govt pledges $1.4m to food charity

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Christmas has come early for a Northern Territory food relief charity.

The Labor government will give Foodbank NT $1.4 million over five years, giving the hunger relief agency the certainty to help the needy during the festive season.

The organisation provided 280,000 meals in 2015, but was in danger of closing its doors earlier this year because of a funding shortfall.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said families come under greater pressure around Christmas, and this year 600 hampers have been packed for Territorians doing it tough over the holiday period.

"I know just what it is like to have to rely on organisations like these to put food on the family table," he said.

Mr Gunner said Foodbank is also a crucial service at this time of the year when emergencies, including floods and cyclones, ramp up in the Territory.

"Foodbank are there when people need it, we saw that last year with the Daly River floods," he said.

The charity gets food donations and volunteers, but it'll use the cash to pay for things like rent and electricity.

"Bills come, and unfortunately Power and Water (Corporation) don't take cans of soup in payment," Mr Gunner said.

The annual $280,000 in funding will start flowing this financial year.

The previous CLP government had pledged $20,000 less annually, and only for three years.

Foodbank NT chief executive Peter Fisher said the surety of Labor's five-year commitment makes a big difference.

"We were living from month to month and sometimes week to week," he said.

"For every dollar the government gives us, we turn that into actual value of $8.80. That's not a bad return."

The government has also given $245,000 to the Homelessness Response Group program, allowing it to help the needy secure emergency and medium-term accommodation.

Minister for Housing and Community Development Gerry McCarthy said the grant will also help people access mental health programs and reconnect with mentor services.

The program was due to wind up at the end of the year but can now continue for another 18 months.

The NT has the highest homelessness rate in the nation.

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