Shelves are growing bare at the Tauranga Community Foodbank and with winter fast approaching its costs are climbing.

This year, for the first time, the foodbank has to pay $42,000 rent.

In response, the Bay of Plenty Times is launching a Foodbank SOS appeal to help the organisation fill its shelves.

The amount of money it spends on non-donated food is also up.

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"We're in exactly the same position as the people we help," Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said.

"Our fixed costs have gone up, which we've got no choice about, and now we're budgeting the food."

In the first four months of 2018, the foodbank spent $23,700 on staple food items – about $5800 more than in the first four months of 2017.

Its 12-month budget for essential groceries grew from $50,000 to $70,000 this year.

The foodbank has issued 1712 food parcels since Christmas, feeding 5163 people including 2950 children.

It has given out 15,489 eggs.

The money spent on food this year is over and above the food items donated during the 2017 Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal.

Goodwin said the foodbank has had to tighten its belt and try to cut spending costs ahead of winter.

"We can definitely get the job done but we have to be mindful of the six months after that and the six months after that."

Demand is as high as it has ever been, she said, and the foodbank now also has to deal with rising rent costs.

Up until a little over two years ago, the 28-year-old foodbank service operated out of a council-owned building and paid no rent.

In October 2015, it had to relocate to a privately-owned building.

Chairwoman of the foodbank board, Sharon Hitchcock, said the council-owned building was "no longer fit for anyone to operate in".

"We would have loved to have been in a council building, but none were available to move into."

The Tauranga City Council initially subsidised some of the new rent costs, but this year the foodbank has to pay the full $42,000 rent for the first time.

Hitchcock said Tauranga's growing population has had a huge impact on both the foodbank and the city.

She said the foodbank was delivering a significant service, but feeding the hungry should be a shared responsibility.

Meagan Holmes, the council's manager of community development, said to support the foodbank's relocation, it supplemented the new lease costs.

It also provided support "in the form of a funding expert to work with foodbank to assist them in their strategic planning so they could achieve their goal of becoming sustainable".

"In agreement with foodbank, we developed a transitional funding agreement with the goal of foodbank paying their own lease costs from April 2018," Holmes said.

She said the foodbank also received a small operational grant each year from the council and has received funding through the council's Community Development Match Fund.

"We have been working closely with Tauranga Community Foodbank. The service they provide to families in need is valued and very important. We want to ensure they can continue to operate sustainably for years to come."

Meanwhile, the foodbank is right now reapplying for grant money it has been getting every year for food.

It has been receiving $10,000 each year from a Stewart Trust grant, an independent fund of which the council is the trustee.

Hitchcock said the foodbank depends on that money every year.

"Getting a call to say it is now contestable and we would have to apply along with others could have a significant impact on our budget."

Holmes said the foodbank was a successful recipient of the grant, which has been paid in annual instalments from the last funding round.

"Applications for the next Stewart Trust funding round are now open, and we hope that foodbank will reapply."

Foodbank SOS

The Tauranga Community Foodbank needs basic canned food in the lead-up to winter.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said if people donated tinned tomatoes, fish, corn, spaghetti and other staple food items, it would directly benefit what the foodbank is having to spend on essential groceries.

Goodwin said her team was always grateful for the community's support and she wanted to reiterate to the public that there is a strict process to getting a food parcel.

"The foodbank takes that responsibility seriously. Those giving and supporting foodbank can be reassured it is going to the local community in a managed way."