With Christmas rapidly approaching, east Aucklanders are being asked to donate food to people struggling to keep their pantry shelves stocked.
All Saints Anglican Church’s Howick food bank provides assistance to people in need from around the community.
Rising demand saw it give out 122 food parcels in September this year compared to 52 in September last year.
It was visited by 420 people in September this year compared to 161 in September last year.
Co-ordinator Lole Turner says about 90 per cent of its clients are on benefits.
“We ask them if they’re on benefits and most of them are or they have lost their job,” she told the Times.
“They don’t have enough income and rents are so high.
“Demand has gone up because of Covid.
“They [the clients] can’t work or have no job.”
Ken Stevenson serves as chairperson of the food bank’s committee.
He says it was established in 1991 in response to severe cuts imposed by the Government of the day and operates with the assistance of its roster of dedicated volunteers.
The service distributed 475 food parcels in 2020, providing assistance to 600 adults and 793 children in need.
One of Turner’s roles is to liaise with Auckland City Mission in the CBD, as it supplies the church’s food bank and others in the area with fresh supplies each week.
The service also relies on regular support from numerous local schools, businesses and community organisations.
Bucklands Beach Intermediate School donates thousands of cans of food to the food bank each year, Turner says.
Each food parcel contains items including nuts, pasta and pasta sauce, biscuits, toilet paper, dishwashing liquid and washing powder, canned foods and there’s also milk, meat, bread and fruit and vegetables available.
Turner says the empty spaces in the food bank’s shelves show how high demand is at the moment.
“Every area should have their own food bank but they often don’t.
“If people arrive at our door, we will never say no to them.”
Stevenson says the food bank primarily serves Howick, Pakuranga and Flat Bush and will refer people from other areas to one that’s closer to where they live.
“But if someone turns up desperate, we are never going to turn them away.”
An increase in demand means more resources are needed for it to keep operating, he says.
“Lole used to go to the City Mission once every two weeks and now she goes every week,” Stevenson says.
“We’ve seen a big increase in demand and we’re only open for an hour a day.”
Turner and Stevenson say the church is very keen to hear from anyone who can donate items to the food bank, which is open 10am-11am, Monday to Friday.
To donate food to it, phone the church on 534 6864 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.