We may be able to help you pay for food if you’re on a low income or a benefit.


  • You don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for this help.
  • You don't have to pay the money back.
  • Who can get it

    You could find yourself in a situation where you've had to pay for an essential cost that means you don’t have enough money to pay for food.

    Maybe you’ve paid for:

    • doctors visits
    • dental treatment
    • clothing for a job interview
    • school clothes or materials for your child.

    You may also find that you have less income this week because:

    • you’ve been off work due to sickness but you’re not eligible for sick pay
    • your hours are reduced unexpectedly.

    Whatever your situation, we may be able to help if you:

    • are 16 or over (if you're 16-19 and have a Youth Service provider, contact Youth Services)
    • are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
    • normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here
    • have an urgent and immediate need to buy food
    • have no other way to pay for food (eg, no money in the bank and no assets).

    It also depends on how much you and your partner earn.

    Your income will be assessed either weekly or yearly, depending on the kind of help you qualify for. These income limits usually apply:

    Income limits

    If you are: Weekly income before tax is less than Weekly income limit (before tax) from 1 November 2021 until 30 June 2022
    single, 16-17 years $514.41 $678.07
    single, 18+ years $591.20 $847.59
    married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children) $858.72 $1695.18
    sole parent (1 child) $717.40 $1165.44
    sole parent (2+ children) $755.82 $1483.29
  • What you can get

    How much you get depends on your situation.

    You can only use the money for food and essential grocery items, eg toiletries. You can’t get other things, eg, alcohol, cigarettes, gift cards, vouchers, etc.

  • How to apply

    If you are a current client, you may be able to apply using MyMSD.

    If you are a new client or unable to use MyMSD, you’ll need to call us. We’ll talk with you to understand your situation and how we can help, and let you know if you need to do anything else.

  • What happens next

    If your application is approved, we’ll give you a payment card (if you don’t already have one) and load the money onto it. We’ll talk to you about how to get this to you.

    You have 7 days to spend the money before it expires.

    A payment card is like an Eftpos card and you can use it at any supermarket or store that accepts them.

    You can also login to MyMSD to see how much you have left on your payment card and when it expires.

    Once you've used your payment card, keep it. You can use it again if you need help from us in the future.