WINZ Food Grant Advice

Applying for a food grant at Work and Income can be tricky if you don’t know what the process is. This page is intended to help you understand the process case managers follow, and some techniques you can use to counter their strategies.

General info:

To get a food grant, you must have an immediate need for food which was caused by an essential expense. Essential expenses include things like: bills, school costs, travel, etc.

You can always go into Work and Income to apply for an emergency food grant. You do not need to make an appointment beforehand.

Anybody who needs a food grant can apply for one. Even if you aren’t on a benefit, if you’re short on cash and can’t afford food for you or your family, you can usually apply for a food grant (there are some income restrictions).

Your strongest tool against case managers is the Review of Decision (RoD) Form. When a case manager makes a decision you think is wrong, ask for a Review of Decision Form. The Review of Decision process forces WINZ to have a fresh set of eyes look over your application. It usually takes a few weeks before they actually review their decision, then they organise a Benefit Review Committeee which you can choose to attend if you want, but you don’t have to.

Sometimes WINZ workers will contact you to try and get you to withdraw your RoD. Unless they’ve overturned their decision, never withdraw a Review of Decision. The WINZ worker is just trying to get out of reviewing an incorrect decision which will make them look bad.

Food grant allowance:

There is no limit on the amount of food grants you can get. However, each beneficiary has a food grant allowance. The only effect of going over this ammount is you have to also prove you have “exceptional costs” which have cause you not to be able to afford food. Here are some examples of “exceptional costs”:

“Some family came over and ate all the food in my cupboards”

“I had to pay a big fine this week, so I can’t afford food”

“I lost my wallet with all my cash for this week in it”

Here are some examples of exceptional costs which are likely to be rejected, and ways in which case managers usually respond:

“I had to pay a bunch of bills this week”
“You could have planned for those bills”

“I drove to visit family, and spent all my money on petrol”
“You could have chosen not to drive”

Allowance amounts: (as of January 2018)

single person with no dependent children $200.00
couple with no dependent children $300.00
couple, or sole parent with 1 or 2 dependent children $450.00
couple, or sole parent with 3 or more dependent children $550.00

Application process:

  1. The first step is to ask at reception for an “emergency food grant appointment”
    • If the receptionist tries to turn you away, tell them you’d like to speak to the service centre manager, and you know they have emergency food grant appointments available
    • If the receptionist tries to reschedule you to another day, tell them you need food today and you’d like to speak to the service centre manager
    • If the receptionist still tries to turn you away at this point, ask for a Review of Decision Form. They have to provide these to you. Fill it out as if the receptionist has declined your application for a food grant.
  2. Now you have to wait, it’s pretty boring but you sometimes have to sit until the end of the day. Be sure to bring a book or something to do.
  3. When you sit down with the case manager, be sure to say “I need a $           food grant”. Fill in the blank with the amount you’d spend in a normal week on food, or more if you need more for this week.
    • Make sure you specify how much you’re applying for. If you don’t do this, your case manager is likely to offer you far less than you actually need.
    • Don’t sell yourself short and ask for less than you need. Case managers are more than happy to provide you with a tiny amount, ask for the amount you really need.
    • If the case manager offers you less than what you ask for, ask for a Review of Decision Form, then accept the amount they’ve offered you.
    • If the case manager offers you an advance on benefit instead, ask for a Review of Decision Form, and ask to speak to the service centre manager.
    • If the case manager offers you a letter to take to a food bank instead, ask for a Review of Decision Form, and ask to speak to the service centre manager.
    • If the case manager declines your food grant, ask for a Review of Decision Form, and ask to speak to the service centre manager.