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Tauranga Foodbank sees surge in new clients

A food parcel for a family of four. Supplied photo.

A third of people Tauranga Community Foodbank has helped in the last month have never used their service before.

From those self-employed now unable to earn, to stranded international seasonal workers, and elderly unable to access food with no family support, the local charity is ensuring no one in our community goes hungry.

It's something Tauranga Community Foodbank Manager Nicki Goodwin says requires wrap-around support.

“As well as providing food, we need to ensure we give time to support these people and steer them in the direction of other support agencies.

“What we are expecting and preparing for is for when the wages subsidy runs out for employers and job losses increase.

"This group of people may need budgeting assistance, help to get out of unsafe living conditions, mental health support; we will also be advising where to seek help from to work through their situation.”

In response to the lockdown, the foodbank has made some significant changes to how they operate.

Social distancing has meant fewer volunteers in their warehouse, and the need to create daily bubbles with the same teams working together on set days.

Customers are unable to enter their reception area and must wait, with volunteers serving one person at a time.

“Everyone has been so considerate and patient with us, and we are so grateful,” says Nicki.

The charity has also adapted to help those unable to collect their food or leave their homes.

“We have set up a delivery service to enable us to deliver directly to people’s front door. This is something we have never needed to do before and thanks to the generosity of Farmers Auto Village who have loaned us a van at no cost we can continue to do this.”

While continuing their service through the lockdown, Nicki says the charity has experienced many sad and positive stories of people struggling, and finding their way through.

“Particularly, helping our elderly at present is a real privilege. We are sensing the sheer feeling of relief that comes from people when we deliver their food, or they collect from us. It must just be one less thing they have to worry about that day.”

To help them keep up with the huge demand for food parcels, Tauranga Community Foodbank applied for additional funding through the Rapid Response Fund.

The $12,000 in funding approved by local funders TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council will allow the foodbank to purchase 1,000 kg of chicken, 1,000 kg of sausages and 1,000 kg of peanut butter and jam.

“I wish I could personally thank every single person who has offered to volunteer, donate food, and funds to us. We intend to be here for the hard months to come, and we will be able to do this with the continued support of our local funders and all the businesses and individuals who support us financially.

“All donations given by the public are used to purchase the staple food supplies which we rely upon to produce useful, nutritious food parcels.”

TECT Trustee Amanda Sutcliffe says the foodbank is going above and beyond to keep our community fed and safe.

“We don’t want anyone in our community going hungry, no matter their circumstance. This is a difficult time for us all, but for those who have found themselves out of work, with no support system, no food, it is heart-breaking.

“There is no quick fix for this, but with food on the table, and help to connect people with the other support agencies they need, Tauranga Community Foodbank is doing a fantastic job ensuring our community’s wellbeing. We are proud that we could get behind them with this funding.”

To learn more about the Tauranga Community Foodbank, visit https://taurangafoodbank.co.nz.

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