Milk powder gives parcels a vital boost

By Genevieve Helliwell

Tauranga's hungry are getting a vital boost to their diets with the addition of milk powder in community food parcels.

From the beginning of this year, Tauranga Community Foodbank has provided milk powder to families. This is the first time the organisation's 22-year existence that it has been able to afford to provide milk powder.

"The response seems to be good but we haven't had a lot of feedback from it," foodbank chairman Mike Baker said.

"We don't get a lot of people talking about it, they just come in and collect their parcel and off they go ... so we would like to hear what people think and whether they actually used it.

"It's quite expensive and we hope families that are receiving the milk powder are appreciative."

It costs the foodbank about $500 a month to provide milk powder, which is bought in 25kg bags.

Before it is given to clients, the powder needed to be separated into smaller portions then have instructions stuck on the bag.

"We write the instructions on an A4 sheet of paper and print it out, cut it into the right size then stick it on the bag. It's another cost to us to do this ... but we're pleased we are able to provide milk powder to families because it's such an important part of a healthy diet."

The initiative was made possible thanks to the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, which raised more than $67,000 worth of goods and cash. This included a $6000 cash donation from the Port of Tauranga, which at the time Mr Baker said would fund the milk powder initiative for 12 months.

"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 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."

Meanwhile, the number of clients needing help from the foodbank had "settled down a bit" with about 30 food parcels going out each day instead of the 50 to 60 going out at the end of last year.

Mr Baker said despite the numbers falling slightly, he expected it to be another tough year financially for Western Bay families.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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