Every bit adds up.
That is the message from the Tauranga Community Foodbank as its annual Christmas Appeal begins today after three months of "unprecedented" demand.
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said the demand for food parcels had increased by 45 per cent in the past three months, with a jump in the number of people directly approaching the foodbank.
This comes as the foodbank gave out 5578 food parcels to 15,636 people in the past 12 months.
Goodwin said the increase in recent months was "unprecedented".
"We thought it was a blip after winter, but it's how we're operating on a daily basis now."
This sharp increase meant the foodbank was currently as busy as it usually was two weeks before Christmas, making the annual appeal "absolutely vital", she said.
Aside from spending $60,000 per year buying staple food for hungry families, the foodbank had to cover $37,500, excluding GST, on the lease for the depot building.
"We know after the appeal that we are good to go for food and cash donations for the first quarter of the year, which are, traditionally, the most taxing months of the year for people.
"Nothing is too little. For every one item that is donated, that is one item that we don't have to buy. The community spirit grows each year and we are so grateful for that because the demand is growing as well."
She said that the plight of families in Tauranga was a significant concern for her.
"It's really worrying. It keeps me awake at night."
She believed the cost of accommodation was the straw that broke the camel's back. She knew some people paying $495 rent out of their $931 salary - more than half of their weekly income.
"People are in a permanent deficit. There is no easy fix for that - you can't budget your way out of poverty. When you have zero disposable income then it just takes a little thing to throw you out."
People living solo seemed to bear the brunt the most, with a 37 per cent increase in parcels going to people who lived alone and had to cover rent by themselves.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service was among the 92 social agencies that the foodbank worked with.
"We really enjoy seeing the transformation and change in people's lives from the teamwork. People come to us very stressed, out of control, not knowing how to deal with their situation. Six months later, they are working through a plan and we've freed up some money in the budget by providing some food.
"It helps them catch up and we can guarantee it goes to the right people."
Editor Scott Inglis said the Bay of Plenty Times was proud to be helping the Tauranga Community Foodbank again and he encouraged everyone to donate to the cause.
"Hundreds of families would go without each year if they did not receive support from the foodbank. Each food item adds up, so we can make a big difference and help needy families if everyone chips in and does their bit."
Referral agencies include:
Tauranga Budget Advice – 17th Ave (Historic Village)
Salvation Army – Cameron Rd, Tauranga
Papamoa Family Services – 35 Hartford Ave, Papamoa
Hillier Centre – Gloucester Rd, Mount Maunganui
St Peters Church – Cameron Rd, Tauranga
Welcome Bay Community Centre – Welcome Bay Rd, Tauranga
Merivale Community Centre – Fraser St, Tauranga
St Vincent de Paul Support Centre – 16th Ave, Tauranga
Te Tuinga Whanau – Chadwick Rd, Tauranga