Auckland Council staff deployed to assist food distribution

Auckland Council is deploying more staff to help Aucklanders experiencing hardship as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In line with the welfare directive announced by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) today to help people experiencing hardship as a result of the lockdown, the council’s Auckland Emergency Management department has set up a system for Aucklanders who may be suffering because of job losses or hardship and struggling to access basic household supplies.

 Starting from Wednesday 1 April,  Aucklanders who are unable to afford groceries or are in self-isolation with no access to other support networks can call Auckland Emergency Management on 0800 22 22 96 between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week.

Anyone who meets the government’s eligibility criteria will be couriered a welfare parcel containing items such as dry goods including pasta and rice, tinned vegetables and meats and basic toiletries.

The first courier parcels are expected to be dispatched at the end of this week. A distribution centre is currently being set up with staff being trained in health and safety provisions for warehousing work, under Covid-19 guidelines.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the programme supports the national efforts to ensure those who are experiencing hardship due to Covid-19 can meet their essential needs.

 “While most Aucklanders are continuing to shop normally for their essential products, there are a small number of people facing real hardship and who need greater support. Through this programme, we can ensure that nobody in our community goes hungry, and that the staple supplies they rely on are available to them.

 “Our customer services call centre staff, who are trained to deal with a wide range of situations, currently have capacity to take on extra duties due to the lockdown.

 “From 7am tomorrow, 40 Auckland Council call centre staff will triage the calls from those seeking emergency support and process applications according to the criteria set out by the government.

 “As the Covid-19 situation develops, we will look at more ways to utilise council staff who may be able to be redeployed,” Phil Goff says.

“We will also be working with local foodbanks to see how we can assist them to meet demand from people facing financial hardship.”

Councillor Sharon Stewart, Chair of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group Committee, says, “We are mobilising quickly to ensure we can support those who are unable to pay and access household essentials as a result of a change in their circumstances due to Covid-19 and the Alert Level 4 lockdown.”

 Group Controller Mace Ward says Auckland Emergency Management is grateful to the support of many organisations to bring this initiative to life at pace.

“We acknowledge the support of organisations like Countdown and Spark Arena to help us plan this response. In the coming days we will be able to provide more details about how this has been pulled together, who is involved and how packages are being delivered,” he says.

 If you are unable to afford groceries or are in self-isolation with no access to other support networks, you can phone Auckland Emergency Management on 0800 22 22 96 between 7am and 7pm, every day from Wednesday 1 April. Anyone needing urgent assistance in the meantime can phone Auckland Emergency Management on 0800 22 22 00.