30 Aug 2021

Sudden lockdown puts financial pressure on struggling families

6:49 pm on 30 August 2021

Teachers in areas caught up in the latest Covid-19 outbreak say whānau are struggling to afford enough food.

KidsCan workers fill boxes to deliver to families in need under lockdown.

KidsCan plans to distribute food parcels to help families struggling in lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

In response, the charity KidsCan plans to distribute 2500 food parcels in Auckland and Wellington to help those facing hardship.

Emma-Jane Jones from Ōtara's Nga Taonga Aroha early childhood centre said they will provide tamariki with three meals a day.

Some whānau have three children at the centre and there may be older siblings who also get food at school.

But that food support disappears when lockdown hits, Jones said.

"A lot of families are budgeting with their children eating at school. Suddenly, we are stuck at home and those services are cut off completely and this time they were cut off without any notice at all."

The speed at which the country went into alert level 4 meant they had no time to arrange extra support for their whānau, Jones said.

Unlike school holidays, which families can plan for because they know they are coming up, lockdowns can happen at any time.

"With lockdown, it is sudden, there is no time to prepare," Jones said.

"We do not know when it is going to happen, because we thought we had a pretty good run happening with Covid, we have not been in lockdown for quite some time, and suddenly, here we are again."

While their families were enjoying spending more time together, Jones said they were worrying about things like how much power, water and internet they are using.

"When you make a budget, the easiest thing to shave down is food," she said.

The uncertainty about how long lockdown could go on for was adding to the stress.

Some whānau were also facing difficulties accessing food if they were contacts of cases and having to isolate.

For big families, isolating at home was a significant issue, because it is impossible for people to isolate away from the rest of the household, Jones said.

The KidsCan food parcels will contain items like bread, cheese, milk, butter, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and other pantry essentials.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs