In just one year, the Tauranga Community Foodbank has helped feed 17,000 people - many of whom are employed, but affected by rising rents.

With Christmas looming, the foodbank's stocks are running low and help is needed from the community to get the organisation through one of its busiest times of year.

Today marks the beginning of the six-week Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, which aims to help the foodbank at one of its busiest times of year by raising awareness about the organisation, collecting food from generous members of the community and raising funds.

To kick-start the campaign, the Bay of Plenty Times is donating $1000 to the appeal.

Advertisement

Last year, the appeal raised $120,451 for the foodbank - $12,000 more than raised in 2014.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said in the 12 months to June, the foodbank had fed 17,000 people with more than 6000 food parcels.

Many of those people were families, single parents and superannuants, but a growing number were people with jobs struggling to make ends meet as rental prices continued to rise.

"They're from all walks of life. It's all so variable. There is no common denominator," Mrs Goodwin said.

"We have seen an increase in people earning wages needing our help. Some of that is to do with the increase in rents.

"There's nothing left. The income doesn't match the outgoings, let alone any emergency situation."

Despite this, Mrs Goodwin said the past 12 months at the foodbank had been successful as the organisation had been able to continue its level of support to people and it had also been able to improve the contents of its food parcels.

There was now a much greater emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, and each contained a list of meal ideas of what people could make using only the supplied food items.

"We're providing them some actually helpful information on how the ingredients can be used."

More fresh fruit and vegetables was something Mrs Goodwin had been working on since she started at the foodbank and she was pleased with how successful it had been.

"Especially because I can see it first-hand from my desk. I can actually hear the clients saying 'oh my gosh, look at this fresh produce'.

"In turn, that's a thanks to all the people that supply that. Members of the community, supermarkets, and community gardens."

Everything that was donated to the foodbank was put to use. Some people would come in with a bit of silverbeet or a bag of oranges from their tree that would otherwise go to waste, but at the foodbank, every last item was used.

"It doesn't have to be a lot to matter. The givers unfortunately don't get to see what a big difference it makes and how grateful these people are."

A huge reason why the foodbank ran as smoothly as it did was because of its dedicated team of volunteers.

"We've still got a really strong team. It's the volunteers that make the foodbank work."

Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said the work done by the foodbank was hugely important for helping people less able to cope, and their work went past just providing food.

"A lot of people don't understand the full services it provides. Not only food but they help put people in touch with other services like budgetary advice to help people become self-sufficient again."

He himself said he would be donating to the appeal and encouraged others to as well.

Items needed

The Tauranga Community Foodbank is short of:

• Biscuits

• Muesli bars and other snack foods for children

• Tinned fruit

• Personal items such as toothpaste or shampoo

• Tinned vegetables

• Baking supplies such as cocoa, icing sugar and baking powder (the foodbank has its own bulk supplies of flour and sugar)

Want to help?

Donations of non-perishable food items or sanitary products can be dropped to the Bay of Plenty Times office at 405 Cameron Rd or to the Tauranga Community Foodbank at Unit G, 4 Brook St.