Despite huge numbers of families struggling to make ends meet, communities across the country have taken action on food poverty in greater numbers than ever before with New Zealand's only online foodbank seeing a record breaking 500 percent increase in donations over the past year. But it’s still not enough.
As winter sets in, The Salvation Army is seeing incredibly high demand for food and is expecting to give out 20,000 food parcels over the colder months to people struggling with the essentials.
The Foodbank Project, led by The Salvation Army with major support from Countdown, provides an easily accessible way to top up local foodbanks and crucially, allows for fresh food to be donated which is not possible with traditional donation bins in store.
The Foodbank Project has been supplying 23 Salvation Army food banks across Aotearoa, and thanks to last year’s unprecedented outpouring of generosity from Kiwis, this support has now extended to 17 more locations to keep up with increased food insecurity across the country.
Jono Bell, The Salvation Army's National Director of Community Ministries, says that the rising costs of living, especially in winter, push many families to their limits.
“People across Aotearoa are struggling, things just add up in winter with increased heating costs, kids needing warm clothes, and seasonal sickness. Something as simple as taking time off work to get your kids to the doctor can tip the balance between getting by and being unable to put food on the table.
“We’ve been amazed at the generosity shown by Kiwis over the last year; as a nation we proved that we won’t stand for our people going hungry and we hope that this spirit continues as we battle entrenched poverty throughout the country,” says Bell.
He adds that for people desperately needing help, visiting The Salvation Army for a food parcel is often the first step on the path to breaking out of poverty. Food is the gateway to accessing further services such as counselling, budgeting sessions, housing support and addiction treatment.
“Around 60 percent of people who come to us in urgent need go on to engage with our wider services. This is a crucial toe-in-the-water which can lead to long-term transformational change and help break the cycle of poverty,” says Bell.
Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, says donations to The Foodbank Project, which Countdown will be matching up to $200,000 this Winter Appeal, ensure that The Salvation Army can focus on the work they do to help people and not have to worry about how to keep foodbanks shelves stocked.
“All Kiwis should have access to food. The message of our Food for Good Winter Appeal is to donate what you can, every little bit helps, and we’ll match it to make sure that help goes even further,” says Hannifin
New Zealanders can donate non-perishable food at any Countdown supermarket or head online to foodbank.org.nz to purchase bundles or select from the most-needed items which are updated regularly for each local foodbank hub.
While need fluctuates during the year and by region, staple foods such as long-life milk, wheat biscuits, rice, flour, pasta, tinned spaghetti and vegetables are always in demand along with household essentials including toilet paper, soap and nappies.
Countdown’s Food for Good Winter Appeal runs from 5 July – 2 August with the supermarket matching public donations up to $200,000. Customers can donate items in store or online at The Foodbank Project: https://www.foodbank.org.nz/. Countdown supports The Foodbank Project through providing items at cost and delivering The Foodbank Project donations free of charge.