Kaiapoi food bank facing record demand from struggling families

Last year's Toot for Tucker brought in a record a haul for Kaiapoi's food bank, but the cupboards...
Last year's Toot for Tucker brought in a record a haul for Kaiapoi's food bank, but the cupboards were running low again in January. Photo: David Hill / Local Democracy Reporter
A record number of food parcels has been handed out at the Kaiapoi food bank as it braces for the Christmas rush.

Waimakariri Deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson said he was shocked to hear of the record demand and solutions are needed to bring Christmas cheer to struggling families.

Community Wellbeing North Canterbury Trust’s Kaiapoi food bank gave out a record 222 parcels in September, with volunteers preparing for big Christmas demand.

‘‘Those numbers are astronomical,’’ Cr Atkinson said.

‘‘I absolutely support what they are doing and know they are under massive pressure.

‘‘We need to make sure pressure is put on Government and other agencies to make sure people have adequate resources to look after themselves.’’

Community Wellbeing North Canterbury Trust marketing manager Louise Leitch said demand had increased dramatically in the last two years.

‘‘Two years ago we gave out an average of 35 parcels a month, but in September we gave out 222, which is the highest number outside of the Christmas period.’’

The trust has been running an appeal in recent weeks to raise urgently needed funds to support the food bank.

She said many families seeking help had two parents working but faced high rents, a lack of affordable housing, rising petrol prices and the cost of groceries.

‘‘A lot of people are coming to us who have never needed support before, but they can’t feed their kids because of the cost of living.’’

The trust is gearing up for the annual Toot for Tucker food drive on Tuesday, December 5, with all of local donations going to the Kaiapoi Community Support food bank.

The last two years have seen record food hauls from Toot for Tucker, but last year's Christmas demand meant the food bank was again seeking donations a month later.

The trust will also have Christmas-giving trees set up in the lead up to Christmas, where people can drop off gifts for families in need.

Trees will be located at the Kaiapoi Library, Kaiapoi New World, Pak’nSave Rangiora, and Ray White in Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Pegasus.

‘‘We welcome gifts for children, teens, and mums and dads,’’ Ms Leitch said.

‘‘We often find we don’t get enough for the teens.’’

She recommended toiletries, chocolates and gift vouchers for teenagers.

Gifts can be dropped off by December 17, so they can be delivered in time and should be new and unwrapped.

Donations of gift wrapping paper were also welcome, so parents at least had the pleasure of wrapping their children’s presents.

Community Wellbeing North Canterbury Trust supports families across the Waimakariri and Hurunui districts from its base in the Kaiapoi Community Centre in Sewell Street.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

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