Vinnies says food parcel demand is soaring


Food parcel demand is surging in Hamilton as Covid lockdown restrictions start to bite across the city.

At St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) Hamilton, demand for food parcels has increased fourfold since the start of level 4 restrictions, general manager Mike Rolton​ says.

“Normally we’d do 20 family food parcels per day on average but, since lockdown started, that has jumped to 80 parcels.”

Food parcels can include staples such as fruit and vegetables, bread, oats and pasta, eggs, canned food, and meat.

While food parcel demand is up, the thrice-weekly community meals Vinnies Hamilton provided before the current lockdown had to be suspended during the Level 4 restrictions.

The rules meant Vinnies couldn’t even deliver the meals to the people Rolton calls “the most needy”.

“Delta has changed the whole scenario,” he comments.

“Last year, we were handing out meals for people to eat but MSD [Ministry of Social Development] have stopped that.”

Rolton said he’s in constant contact with other community groups to ensure they are aware of each other’s needs. The Salvation Army has also experienced an increase in food parcel demand.

“One of the things that’s happened since last year’s lockdown is the collaboration between the big players. It’s really impressive.”

Those applying for food parcels are recorded in a database. The system alerts groups to anyone trying to unfairly claim multiple parcels from different providers.

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate​ says the city is well served by its community groups and the council is exploring ways it can help those in need.

These include providing Claudelands Events Centre to assist groups providing meals to residents – lockdown rules permitting.

During last year’s lockdown the events centre was used to provide meals and emergency food meals for families in need.

Southgate says regular briefings ensure councillors have an accurate picture of how the city is coping.

“We haven’t determined to give any monetary grants at this point in time, rather we’ve decided to work alongside some of those community organisations that are well-equipped,” she says.

“The social infrastructure in place now is far better than when we went into lockdown last time. We enabled some of that with grants to things like ‘Here to help u’ and other organisations to give them the resources they needed to provide food and give people access to help when they need it.”

Any significant spending of public money also has to be transparent, she said.

“Council has to be flexible, but at the moment we don’t feel we need to jump in with monetary support. If things should change, we will of course consider it.”


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , ,