Overwhelmed by need

Splash Palace employees Claudia Rodgers (left) and Amy Knoll volunteer to help with contactless delivery of food parcels to families in need in South Invercargill earlier this week as part of The Pantry's Pay-It-Forward Food Boxes programme.

FOOD insecurity has been an issue for many South Invercargill families during the latest Covid-19 lockdown, South Alive community development and operations manager Julz Orr says.

Adding to lockdown concerns, part of the current food insecurity for some had been the lack of notice for people to stock up on supplies, as well as the cooler months meaning people had to also budget for electricity as well, South Alive trustee and Pay-It-Forward team leader Robyn Hickman said.

“This time [lockdown] is more serious and worse for people… with [the end of] winter and heating bills, some are running on empty,” Mrs Hickman said.

“For some on budgets, they haven’t had a chance to gather their reserves, take stock and get prepared.”

Last year, The Pantry, South Alive’s community owned bulk grocery, specialty food store and cafe, started offering Pay-It-Forward Food Boxes during the 2020 lockdown to South Invercargill families in need.

While the need had been continuous since, it had certainly ramped up since this year’s lockdown, Ms Orr said.

“It had gone from 10 a month to 55 a week this lockdown.”

“As a result of the demand, Foodstuffs South Island, Community Trust and MSD (Ministry of Social Development) Food Security Communities have given extra support, adding to The Pantry’s and other people’s donations.”

Previously families had been referred to the programme, however, such had been the need this lockdown that requests had flooded in.

Ms Orr said some families had up to nine children, as well as adults.

“It’s really important work for us to be doing at this time… especially for people who are food insecure.”

She said there had been an amazing outpouring of donations, volunteering and help.

“There has been some great mahi (work) done in South Invercargill community getting the food boxes out to families in need.”

Mrs Hickman said it had been “heart warming to see how many individuals and organisations had volunteered to help this time”.

However, more help was needed to deliver the food boxes.

Ms Orr was hoping to hear from any organisations or groups which could help deliver the food boxes by phoning (03) 214 5200 or emailing admin@thepantry.co.nz