Nicki Goodwin cannot imagine what Tauranga would look like without community support.
"Until I started working at the food bank I had no idea of how much our community is supported and just how many volunteers give their time to helping others."
The manager of the Tauranga Community Foodbank said she knew "for sure" that our city would look much different without all the charities and services which were currently available.
Which was why donations to the food bank were needed in the lead up to Christmas.
The annual Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal was currently running for the seventh year and every donation was gratefully received. Last year about $130,500 was raised in the appeal.
"This is our opportunity to restock the shelves which were seriously empty and get prepared for the next three months of a high demand for our service," Nicki said.
More than 16,000 people had received help in Tauranga in the last 12 months by the food bank and of those more than 9000 were under the age of 18.
Nicki said there was always an increase in the level of need this time of year because of the school holidays coming up.
"Often this can be related to children being at home and obviously eating more and also not being able to access the breakfasts and lunches provided in some schools."
She said businesses closing for the holiday season had an effect on people in the community as some would earn less during closedown periods.
"Then, of course, people come up against the returning to school costs. The higher demand continues right through the school holidays and well into term one of the New Year.
"We also help with Christmas goodies in the few weeks before Christmas to brighten the table for people who are really struggling," she said. The food bank issued 5459 food parcels in the 12 months ended October 2017 which was 15 per cent more than the same period last year.
Nicki had worked at the food bank for the past four years and said the organisation was helping more middle-income wage earners now than it had in the past — people with jobs, and not all low-paid jobs either.
"If things go wrong — extra expenses, illness — because of the cost of living, there's not as much of a buffer there for those people as there used to be.
"We take the responsibility of managing donations seriously and really do make sure that they are given to those who need it most," she said.
Anne Brown had been a volunteer with the food bank for the past two years. She said it was hard seeing supplies dwindle.
"This year demand has been huge and our supplies have flown out the door as fast as they have come in."
But it was thanks to the community the food bank was now being restocked for the festive season. "The generosity of our Tauranga people blows me away."