You helped raise $59,351 in foodbank appeal

By Genevieve Helliwell

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Thanks Tauranga.

The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal closed yesterday having raised $59,351 for Tauranga Community Foodbank. And there are still more donations coming in.

The provisional total includes 20,276 items and $28,937 in cash, and has left foodbank chairman Mike Baker "absolutely blown away".

He said the amount raised would put the foodbank in a strong position to start the new year, and the additional food items would keep the shelves stocked for longer.

Instead of spending up to $7000 on food each month, like it normally does, the foodbank could spend the money in other ways, he said.

Starting in the new year, the foodbank would be able to provide milk powder to families for the first time since the organisation opened in 1991.

"This is huge because we provide Weet-Bix, bread and other staple food items but not milk and milk is an essential part of a healthy diet. It's logical to put it in milk but we haven't been able to afford it," he said.

"We never go into anything without doing our best to ensure it will be ongoing and with the additional funds that are now available it has meant we've been finally able to put what's been in our thoughts into action."

It will cost the foodbank approximately $500 a month to purchase milk powder. "If you work it out it's about Foodbank thanks all the donors

$6000 a year so the Port of Tauranga's $6000 donation will pay for the first year's worth," he said.

Even though the campaign has officially closed, donations are still being dropped off at the foodbank and other food is still to be picked up. Each item was valued at $1.50 but most items would be worth a lot more, with generous donations of Christmas mince pies and chocolates, as well as the basics.

Mr Baker was particularly impressed with the donation of baby products and personal care items, which were always in high demand at the foodbank.

"I can't believe how much has been raised this year.

"This just goes to prove the community still recognises the foodbank as a worthy cause to donate to.

"We're thankful, appreciative." More than $3000 cash and 3000 items were donated yesterday, on the last day of the appeal.

Because of the increased awareness generated by the campaign, more businesses and organisations have donated to the charity.

However, because of the increased publicity, more people were now aware of the service and had subsequently come forward for food parcels.

On Wednesday, the foodbank issued 60 food parcels, which was the highest amount ever to be issued in the past nine years, Mr Baker said.

"It doesn't mean food parcels are easier to get.

"We actually brought in tougher rules 14 months ago ... so the fact that more people are presenting to the foodbank with referral forms means people are still struggling.

"And from what we're seeing, 2013 looks set to be an incredibly tough year.

"We are the ambulances at the bottom of a cliff but wouldn't it be nice if we weren't in that position."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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