People needing foodbank assistance has soared since New Zealand went into lockdown, but people like you are showing our solidarity as a nation, donating groceries in unprecedented numbers.
Last week saw the biggest ever jump in new clients at Salvation Army foodbanks, with a 55 percent increase. But you have been donating to The Foodbank Project in record numbers—on a single day just after lockdown, you donated a record $163,000 worth of groceries.
These donations are making it possible to meet the demand—with people often finding themselves in need of assistance for the first time, says Lorraine Brooks, Salvation Army Centre Manager in Glenfield, Auckland.
‘We had a mum and dad with two small children and both of them lost their jobs and had no money coming in,’ says Lorraine. ‘So our driver dropped off a food parcel to their front door. Later, they phoned us and said they had really given up and couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel—and to have such a beautiful food parcel that included chocolate and a toy for the kids, it really gave them hope.’
It’s part of an emerging trend since lockdown, says Captain Gerry Walker, who is heading up The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response. ‘There are two distinct groups of people seeking help for the first time: those who have lost their jobs or their income has reduced, and also the elderly who don’t have family support and who don’t have the ability to join the queues at the shops.’
Despite working long hours, doing the physical work of unloading truckloads of groceries and packing food parcels, Salvation Army teams continue to find creative solutions for people in need. ‘One elderly lady didn’t have a radio or TV so was finding it really hard to find out what on earth was happening – so we had a spare radio in our staff room and we gave that to her,’ says Lorraine.
The Salvation Army is also integral in meeting people’s social needs, with drop-in centres where many people come daily for a cuppa and a chat. Since lockdown, these regulars are getting a phone call at least once a week. ‘It’s not just the physical need, it’s also the social need and we know people are lonely,’ says Lorraine.
There is perhaps no group of people more vulnerable than our homeless population. Lorraine says they are continuing to care for their rough sleepers—who can ring the doorbell to receive a warm meal and a hot drink delivered outside the door. They are even working with Police to ensure the safety of their local homeless community. ‘Of course we know them and we’re really worried about them,’ says Lorraine.
This spirit of ‘looking out for each other’ has been shared by Kiwis around the country. ‘The Salvation Army would not be able to do what we do without the generous donation from individuals, families and corporates,’ says Gerry. ‘You are an integral partner in what we are doing.’
The demand for food parcels continues to grow and we will continue to need your help—it’s easy to donate online and makes a vital difference. Thank you for doing your part in caring for all New Zealanders.