Foodbank’s drive helps most needy

Family Works Foodbank ambassador Lois Scott-Muir is looking forward to once again volunteering at...
Family Works Foodbank ambassador Lois Scott-Muir is looking forward to once again volunteering at Octacan. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
As Matariki rises, so does the spirit of giving, as locals come together on June 20 for the annual Octacan food drive.

It is that time of year when people are asked to reach into their kitchen cupboards or supermarket trolleys and give cans of food.

Since its inception in 2009, Presbyterian Support Otago’s winter food drive has aimed to fill the shelves of its Family Works Foodbank, ensuring those going through challenging times have something in their pantry.

Family Works Foodbank ambassador Lois Scott-Muir said she looks forward to offering help on the day.

As a longtime volunteer, she is drawn to this occasion because of the good work the Family Works Foodbank does in the community.

"And Octacan is a big day for Presbyterian Support Otago."

Fundraising and events co-ordinator Olivia Willems said last June over 18,000 cans and goods were donated during the canned food drive.

This enabled the food bank to have items on the shelves until December, but more recently, it has been finding the shelves getting emptier around October.

"We are finding at the moment that it is just getting a lot tougher.

"Especially to make those cans last."

The food bank has witnessed a 29% increase in people accessing its services.

At the same time, some are finding it harder to have spare dry goods to give.

"So we are finding more demand," Ms Willems said.

"But also less supply."

Items needed include canned foods such as baked beans, spaghetti, soup, tomatoes and other vegetables, fruit, meat, and fish.

Toiletry products such as toothpaste, soap, toilet rolls, and washing powder are items that are often needed.

Other dry goods such as breakfast cereal, jams, and snack bars can also be given.

Matariki, the Māori New Year, is due to take place soon after the food drive on June 28, highlighting the relevance of sharing the annual harvest.

The donated cans in the Octagon will again be arranged into the shape of the Matariki star cluster.

People can give cans by visiting the Octagon on Thursday, June 20, from 7.30am to 2pm, or visit to give.

If a group has over 50 cans it wishes to be collected by Media Works, email to arrange a time.