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Councils behind food for the needy

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at the Spark Arena, HQ for food parcel distribution.

Food parcels for the needy

A number of councils around the country organised food relief for the needy during the lockdown, but none on the scale of the Auckland Council which set up a hardship food distribution programme for those who contacted its welfare team.

As part of the process, food was organised to be sent to the huge Spark Arena where it was packaged. Arenas are part of worldwide emergency plans for the likes of earthquakes for use as hospitals, among other things.

Spark Arena managing director Stuart Clumpas says using the facility was also a good way to provide work for his staff who were staring at an empty event schedule. Many of them only got paid when shows were playing, he says.

In the first day of operation, the council and arena staff put out about 1000 boxes with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff expecting to provide around 500 food packages of non-perishable goods a day, with the costs not “insubstantial” he says. Countdown supplied the food and NZ Couriers delivered it through Government funding.

Auckland Council also redeployed its ’s catering staff to provide 400 meals a day, seven days a week, to support the city’s rough sleeper community and those facing severe financial hardship.

Mayor Phil Goff says around 20 council staff worked in rotation to provide Auckland City Mission with meals. Meals were prepared at Auckland Council facilities and delivered to Auckland City Mission for distribution.

“With staff working from home, the council’s cafeterias are closed and it makes sense for our staff to use their skills to help meet a desperate social need in the city.

“To get through a difficult time, it’s really important that we reach out and help each other and I’m proud that our staff are doing this.”

Other emergency food relief came from the likes of Eat My Lunch, which normally supplies sandwich deliveries to children.

“Obviously with schools closing, we had to come up with a different way of making sure kids were still getting food,” says Eat My Lunch’s Lisa King. The organisation sent out parcels with ingredients to make a week’s worth of lunches at home.

“The logistics of delivering to 2000 kids individually, versus to schools has definitely been challenging for us,” King concedes.

KidsCan also organised special deliveries for families in isolated communities.

“We’ve repurposed our warehouse and we’re packing 3300 boxes of food – 40kg each – that will feed a family of five for up to two weeks,” says its chief executive Julie Chapman.

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