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FOOD PARCELS: Foodbank secretary Lavinia Hiakita and chair Rob Kofoed with some of the items in food parcels ready to be distributed in Ōtaki.  

Photo Ian Carson

The Ōtaki Foodbank has had a big leap in demand for food parcels during lockdown, but community support has helped the organisation get through.

Unlike in many other centres around the country, Ōtaki has coped, being able to fulfil the demand.

“The support from our community has been huge,” says foodbank chair Rob Kofoed. “A lot of that support has come from local businesses, but individuals have also got in touch and just said, ‘how can we help’?

“We would have struggled to get through this period without that support.”

It’s a view confirmed by foodbank manager Lucy Tahere, who with her small team has been busy compiling food parcels at the foodbank’s Main Street premises.

“Some businesses have just rung up out of the blue and offered to help. And it’s not just offering what they can’t use or want themselves – they’ve been asking what we need.

“That’s been fantastic.”

Other individuals have baked biscuits and other items to help out those in special need at this time.

However, Lucy says when people offer assistance, money makes a difference. It allows the foodbank to buy what it needs, when it needs it.

And when it comes to spending the money, it always goes to local businesses.

People have also volunteered to help at the foodbank, but the bubble has to remain small in the meantime.

The foodbank has prioritised support for the elderly and young families, which still holds true, but Lucy says there are some worrying signs that there will be more people out of work soon.

“Nobody knows what the next few weeks will bring. I’ve had some people contact us in tears because they never thought they would have to ask for help from the foodbank.

“It can be demoralising, but hopefully just to tide them over.

“We’re a place of last resort, but recently we’ve been able to be a little more flexible just so we get food out to people who need it.

“No one should go hungry in this community.”

Foodbank keeps up with demand thanks to community


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