A throwaway comment about hungry families snowballed into an initiative that will help hundreds of Tauranga families next year.

Tauranga Boys' College has a close relationship with the Tauranga Community Foodbank and each year donates a huge load of food to the organisation through its school appeal. The college delivered 4210 food items to the foodbank this year, worth more than $12,000.

Earlier this year, a teacher from the college was talking with her daughter about the foodbank's role in the community and how food parcels are a top-up for people in need, helping stretch the food already in their cupboards.

"But what about the people with nothing?" the daughter asked.


From there, the idea for essential pantry supplies boxes was born.

The teacher and students from the college created about 60 of the boxes, which they delivered to the foodbank.

Manager Nicki Goodwin said the idea was such a good one, the foodbank decided to ask the Tauranga City Council to help fund the boxes under its Match Grant Fund.

The council provided an $8400 grant, enough for between 240 and 300 boxes - a year's supply.

"They're for the people with absolutely nothing in their cupboards," Goodwin said.

These could be people who have had to suddenly relocate or those that have used every last item of food.

The boxes would provide basic ingredients such as oil, soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic and rice, with recipe cards.

The council's community development co-ordinator, Debbie Currin, said the project was seen as being a little bit different to the core work of the foodbank.

"A barrier to cooking healthy, tasty meals is having the extra ingredients required," Currin said.

She said the independent panel saw this as a valuable community initiative that would encourage vulnerable families to prepare and eat healthy and nutritious food together. It could also become sustainable in the future by finding other funders for the boxes.

Goodwin said the stories in national media recently about foodbanks and charities turning away food like tinned tomatoes should not let this stop locals donating any type of unperishable food to the Tauranga Community Foodbank.

This year's Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal had seen a huge influx of donations, but the community's need was also growing - and fast.

"In previous years, the Christmas Appeal has given us enough food to last until May. Last year, we had record donations [$129,130] but it only got us through to March.

"In November, we were 36 per cent higher than November last year.

"It's not like we're imagining the need growing. The need is growing. That's how it is."

Goodwin said she would hate for people to think that because the appeal was proving successful, their small two-can donation was not needed.

"Every single can counts. We would love people to bring in their two cans."