Demand for Food Support will Increase over School Holidays

As free school meal programmes close down for the holidays, Tauranga services that provide food to struggling families are bracing for a surge in demand this summer.

Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said school holidays typically bring a "jump" in the number of households needing help - with a 45 percent spike in demand recorded over the July break.

With annual food prices up 10.1 percent - a 14-year high, according to Stats NZ - schools say parents are already struggling, and community centres in Welcome Bay and Merivale are expecting a rise in foodbank referrals.

It comes as the Bay of Plenty Times launched a six-week Christmas Appeal on Saturday, raising food and financial donations for the foodbank to help it get through the holidays and beyond.

The foodbank's figures showed just over half of the 19,603 people it had helped in the 12 months to October were children.

Goodwin said that was a drop from 10 years ago, when children represented more than 60 per cent of the people the foodbank supported.

One reason for this was the Government's lunches in schools programme, Ka Ora, Ka Ako, which reached 110 schools - the equivalent of 23,424 students - across the Bay of Plenty.

The programme, introduced in 2019, meant fewer families turned to a foodbank for help during term times, Goodwin said. However, the number of households needing food support spiked during school holidays.