25 Mar 2020

Food banks face Covid-19 lockdown issues - demand high, supplies low

6:20 pm on 25 March 2020

Food banks are bracing themselves for increased demand over the next four weeks, as the country goes into Covid-19 lockdown.

Volunteers sort food at the City Mission

A volunteer sorts food at the Auckland City Mission. File image. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Some say they're already had more people coming in for help over the last few days, leaving their stocks seriously depleted.

And they're having to juggle how they'll continue to provide services - and restock - while complying with the rules.

Lisa Nepia helps keep some of Hamilton's community food pantries stocked up.

She said panic buying in supermarkets had been very stressful for people like her who were on a benefit or low income.

"For the cheaper items that I go for, for instance a $2 bag of coffee, there was none, so the next option I had, which a lot of people are probably experiencing on a budget was coffee for $5 and it was like, I can't do that."

That's one of the reasons why food banks around the country are expecting increased demand over the next few weeks.

Welfare and social service providers have been deemed an essential service, so will continue to operate during the lockdown period - albeit in a different way.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

The Salvation Army's Gerry Walker said from the end of today, all of their premises would be shut.

But he said people in need would still be able to contact them by phone for help.

"If it requires something like a food parcel we will endeavour within the resource we currently have and you will appreciate there is an increased demand on our foodbanks, we are starting to run low on food."

There had been a significant run on the organisation's foodbanks over the last three or four days, leaving its stocks seriously depleted, he said.

And the Salvation Army was anticipating extra demand for food parcels over the coming weeks.

"We are working to replenish, we are talking with central government, we're talking with our donors and so forth to see about getting extra stock in - that takes time."

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