Lucy Tahere was overwhelmed on a Wednesday morning in May as she opened the doors to the Ōtaki foodbank that she has managed for 26 years.
A van full to the brim of donated goods from the local community supplied 164 food bags, each valued at $20. New World Ōtaki, which sponsored the local part of the supermarket chain’s Family 2 Family programme, topped it up to 200 bags.
“This was a huge donation and we’re so very grateful,” Lucy told Ōtaki Today. “It comes just as winter is here and right now, there is a greater need.”
New World Ōtaki owner Matt Mullins said he was delighted to support the community in such a practical way.
“It’s all about helping a family in need, giving from one family to another, and our community has been amazing this year,” Matt said.
Less than a third of people who access the foodbank are referred from Work & Income. From February to April 2022, 32 people used the service who are employed or on a minimum wage.
“There are many reasons why people come to us for support,” Lucy says. “They tell us they have vehicle costs, rents and rates, and even school expenses for their children.”
She says that lower income earners have often used up sick leave because of Covid-19.
“Work & Income have a stand-down period between applying for a grant entitlement,” she says. “I would rather give parcels as I know where their wages are being spent through their bank statements, and we support these people until their situation has recovered.
“We have a rigorous application process, to make sure support goes to those who have a genuine need.
“We have also issued food parcels to grandparents with school-age grandchildren, and who are looking after their mokopuna at home during Covid isolations.”
The foodbank welcomes non-perishable products that are essential for familes: canned goods and spreads, tea and coffee, rice and pasta.
“We also welcome soap, toothpaste, shampoo and sanitary products,” Lucy says.
Donations and support are always welcome.
Ōtaki Foodbank, 43A Main St, 06 364-0051. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9.30am-noon See foodbank.co.nz/otaki-foodbank