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Lockdown Drives Spike In Demand For Food Hubs – New Zealand Food Network Data Reveals

Press Release – New Zealand Food Network

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 Delta variant in August 2021, demand for food support has reached an all-time high. Aotearoas food rescue facilitator, the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) has today released figures from the last three months …

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 Delta variant in August 2021, demand for food support has reached an all-time high. Aotearoa’s food rescue facilitator, the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) has today released figures from the last three months highlighting the rising need for its own, and its partnering food hubs (food rescue organisations, iwi and charities) vital services.

Between August–October 2021 (see Appendix), the NZFN distributed 3051.8 tonnes of food to communities in need via its food hubs – an increase of 159.7% from the previous 3-month period, or an even more staggering 504% increase from the same period last year. This includes food purchased on behalf of Ministry of Social Development (MSD) as part of the Covid Response and Recovery Fund to support foodbanks and social sector agencies. The NZFN was tasked with emergency purchasing by MSD to support an additional 40 organisations, on top of the 55 food hubs it already services.

Many of the NZFN’s food hubs have experienced an increase in demand for food support and their services over the lockdown period.

Prior to the Alert Level 4 lockdown in August 2021, Auckland food hub, the Kai Collective Project, provided food support to approximately 850 households each month, with an average household size of 4-6 people. In September, during Auckland’s Level 4 lockdown, the team distributed 2,679 parcels, a 235% increase from their normal operating.

Similarly, South Auckland Christian Foodbank reported a 342% increase during the first 4 weeks of lockdown, compared to the previous month.

Some food hubs have also reported expanding their operations and facilities to cater to the ever-increasing number of recipients. Among those is BBM Motivation who permanently shifted its food bank into a larger premise with more capacity to meet growing demand.

Dave Letele, Founder of BBM Motivation says, “Pre-lockdown we were doing 300-500 free hot meals a day through our community kitchen. In terms of entire food parcels we were doing up to 50 parcels a week. These numbers have multiplied exponentially this current lockdown, and we’re now doing 560 food parcels weekly.”

While Auckland has been hardest hit by the extended lockdown, the impact is being felt all around the country.

Gisborne-based food hub, SuperGrans Tairāwhiti experienced a massive 543% increase in demand for its services this past September, compared with September 2020.

Meanwhile, weekly demand at Te Pātaka Blenheim has gone up by six times. On average, it supports 40 whānau per week, equating to 250 individuals or 3000 meals per week.

NZFN CEO, Gavin Findlay says, “The closure of businesses has resulted in thousands of New Zealanders facing reduced working hours or income and on occasion, redundancy – some have had no choice but to turn to external food support for the first time to keep food on the table.

“A number of agencies had to close down through the lockdown period, so the ones who remained open really felt the additional demand. Despite loosening of restrictions in Auckland and around the country, unfortunately we’re still seeing a real need in our communities. With Christmas just around the corner, this holiday season is going to be especially tough for many Kiwis.”

Findlay says the past few months have demonstrated the importance of food businesses and frontline community groups working together.

“Generous donations from food organisations have really made a difference to addressing this heightened need, and we want to say a special thank you to Fonterra, T&G Fresh, Foodstuffs North Island, Zespri and Sanitarium.”

Since its launch in July 2020, the NZFN has distributed over 6.5 million kgs (the equivalent to 18 million meals) to communities in need, and diverted 17 million kgs CO2-equivalent from landfill.

APPENDIX

Total volumes of food distributed via the New Zealand Food Network (in tonnes)

2020

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
179.23 155.09 188.02 161.68 200.5 256.4
           

2021

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
266.56 258.07 365.64 300 369.05 396.1 409.8 525.6* 1126.6* 1399.6*
                   

*Includes the following MSD purchased food:

Aug Sep Oct
96 659 556
     

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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