Lockdown increases demand for Tauranga Foodbank
Normally April and May are the quietest months of the year for the Tauranga Community Foodbank, but lockdown has changed things this year.
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin says COVID-19 has changed the demand, as well as how they are doing things.
“April and May, they’re probably the quietest time of the year for food bank.
“The reasons for that is there’s seasonal works available, plus the energy payments that people receive, take a bit of a burden off.
“We're not seeing that respite this year, because we're helping lots of different people for lots of different reasons.”
She says a lot of people aren’t receiving their normal income, so need help with food and they are also delivering food parcels to people who are isolated or unable to access food.
“What we're finding is, it's a scary time.
“When we get a referral for someone needing help, we'll give that person a call and by the time we get off the phone, you can feel their sense of relief and it's lovely.
“They know that it's going to be okay, and that there's people out there to help.”
The foodbank is delivering to people each day as well as being open for people to collect food parcels.
They are open for two hours on weekdays and are helping people one at a time so social distancing requirements are met, Nicki says.
They have also had to change how the staff and volunteers work in the centre because of the alert level four restrictions.
A lot of their regular volunteers are in the vulnerable age group for COVID-19 so are unable to help at the moment, she says.
“We've relied on a smaller core group, who have been coming in regularly so that we can try and maintain a certain bubble here each day. So we've got the same people working together.
“We just have the best team down here, and we're still really reliant upon volunteers.”
Under the current restrictions foodbank is also unable to accept donations of food but the community has stepped to help with funding, she says.
“We're purchasing bulk goods and then we quarantine those before they come into warehouse. So we are having to turn down a lot of donations of food.
“However, people in turn, because they're phoning us to see what the needs are, are then making a donation of money.
“I'm honestly, just blown away by the community. I can't thank people enough.”
Some of the items included in a food parcel, sausages, chicken, frozen vegetables and meals are also added. Supplied image.
The foodbank has received $12,000 from the Rapid Response Fund, established by TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council.
They have also been given funding from other community groups like the local Lions Clubs and recently received $1000 of fresh bread from Legacy Funerals.
Nicki says she expects the needs to increase over the next few months because of the winter costs people experience.
“Foodbank has always been very careful with preparing for the future. So although we know demand is going to continue to go up, we're okay.
“We may be receiving support now that we might've had to wait till later in the year, but now is when we really need it.”