Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Need for food parcels doubled in level 4 - Auckland City Mission

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Need for food parcels doubled in level 4 - Auckland City Mission
Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Need for food parcels doubled in level 4 - Auckland City Mission

Some organisations are running low on food and other resources to pass on to the city’s most vulnerable.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced another $13.5 million of funding to help, bringing total government support during the delta outbreak to $38m.

For mum-of-four Viona, it has been tough putting food on the table over lockdown.

Viona’s husband lost his job during the first wave last year and since then they have both been on the benefit.

The kids usually get lunch and fruit at school – but with everyone home, she has had to make her tight budget stretch even further to cover those extra meals and snacks.

“We are in need of more food; providing more food for the kids in our family at this time,” she said.

Growing kids eat a lot and it has not been easy, Viona said.

“I’ve noticed the prices in the supermarket, our Pak’nSave that we always go and shop at, it’s slightly going up.”

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Need for food parcels doubled in level 4 - Auckland City Mission

Parcels made up at a food bank in Auckland. Photo RNZ / Simon Rogers

That is crippling Viona’s budget.

“I’m kind of like, oh my gosh I used too much [power, for example], so my bills are piling up and I really need to make a payment.

“So I paid my bills off and then I’ll go to the food bank and ask for help,” she said.

Auckland City Missioner Helen Robinson said when the country went back into alert level 4, the need for food parcels doubled almost overnight.

Before the lockdown, the mission and its partner organisations were handing out up to 900 food parcels a week.

That jumped to as high as 2000 in the first weeks of the Delta outbreak.

“I’m really genuinely concerned because the sustained need that we see now is four times what we were seeing in February of last year.”

Robinson said they were preparing for high levels of demand to continue until Christmas and right through the rest of the summer holidays.

But it is not just whānau with tamariki who are in need.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Need for food parcels doubled in level 4 - Auckland City Mission

Manukau Urban Māori Authority essential services manager Puhihuia Wade said older people needed help too.

“Probably week five, kaumātua now were saying, ‘well actually, I haven’t left my home because I’m really worried and now we’re getting to the end of our kai’.”

As well as food parcels, Wade said they were delivering kaumātua a hangi meal once a week.

“It makes sure that we’re checking up on them,” she said.

“It also gives them that feeling of warm kai; this is a hangi, not something that we would do every day, but you know we’ve got to see the brighter side of Covid-19.”

But Wade is urging anyone who is struggling to get in touch.

“People don’t have to do this alone. People don’t have to be at home alone,” she said.

“I know it can be some hard times, but we’re only just a phone call away, we’re only just a Facebook message away, we’re only just a text message away.”

Robinson said Covid-19 had brought to light the precarious position many families find themselves in every day.

“The driver of food insecurity is inadequate income. Covid-19 hasn’t created food insecurity. It’s existed and was alive and sadly pumping before Covid came along.

“What we know is that that first level 4 lockdown and then the level 3 that happened in Auckland last year, and then this lockdown has exacerbated pre-existing issues.”

Where to get a vaccination in Auckland – without a booking

This map shows large vaccinations centres from the Unite again Covid-19 infomation page. For more detailed information about your neighbourhood visit Healthpoint.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said officials were keeping in close contact with foodbanks, to assess the need that’s out there from week to week.

She said some of the demand on foodbanks had dropped back slightly, most likely because some people had been able to return to work under alert level 3.

This lockdown had also been challenging because of the large numbers of people who were having to isolate because they were contacts of cases, Sepuloni said.

“We do need to keep in mind I think that we haven’t seen the peaks that we saw during previous lockdowns last year, but it’s certainly higher than pre-Covid.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled more support is likely for families experiencing hardship.

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