Auckland’s Fourth Lockdown, Food Banks Brace for Flood of Demand

It’s only the second day of the fourth lockdown in Auckland city and food banks are already experiencing a surge in demand.

Chief executive of south Auckland’s Papakura Marae, Tony Kake, was expecting a flood of people at his food bank, but they’re prepared for it.

“We’ve already been quite busy but it’s out fourth practice at it, we’re beyond practice now.”

During the last three-day lockdown, demand for food parcels doubled. They went from handing out 30 food parcels a day to 60, but Kake said it was nothing compared to the first lockdown. Now that people were more used to lockdowns, he said, there was less of a sense of panic.

According to Dave Letele, who runs the manukau food bank, the snap lockdown had put a lot of pressure on families who often relied on free school meals to feed their children. With everyone at home, continued Letele, food was quickly used up and many families would only have enough food in the pantry for one meal a day.

Letele urged people who could afford to, to give to their local food bank. He expected to give parcels out to 500 families this week, each with enough food to last seven days. In a normal week, they would do about 200 parcels.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said standard demand for food parcels was now double what it was before COVID but he expected that to rise even further this week as it normally took a few days before the need became apparent. That was when people had “genuinely started to run out of food,” he said.

COVID had also opened doors for the Mission, however, with wholesalers, distributors and growers stepping up to donate food in bulk.