The Port of Tauranga has given $25,000 to the local foodbank after workers raised concerns for those struggling in the community because of Covid-19.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said the contribution was suggested by staff, who had continued to work through the lockdown handling essential cargo.

"At first, some of us were anxious about having to work through the lockdown and worried for the loved ones in our bubbles. However, we now realise just how privileged we are to all still have jobs and some cargoes flowing across our wharves.

"Many people in our region have suddenly lost their jobs, or are working reduced hours, pushing many families into vulnerable positions.

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"The demand for food parcels is only likely to grow over the coming months and this is one small way we can assist our community," he said.

Tauranga Community Foodbank chairman Larry Bilodeau said the donation was ''fantastic and significant''.

Larry Bilodeau, chairman of Tauranga Community Foodbank says Covid-19 had driven demand. Photo / File
Larry Bilodeau, chairman of Tauranga Community Foodbank says Covid-19 had driven demand. Photo / File

He said demand for the foodbank was up 40 per cent on the year before and ''now we are up again by another 40 or 50 per cent'' because of Covid-19.

''We're going through so much food, and so many people are in need of our services.''

Bilodeau said it was not taking food donations because of the risks of handling so it had to buy all of it, which was a huge cost.

''Donations like this makes that possible and the community in general has been very generous. It is quite heartwarming to know there are some kind people out there.''

''I read about foodbanks in other parts of New Zealand and around the world for that matter, and they're all struggling to keep ahead of demand.''

People from all walks of life were accessing the foodbank.

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''I think the popular misconception about people who use the foodbank are there to do their grocery shopping.''

But more often than not, emergencies like a broken-down car or an unexpected bill pushed people over the edge.

''That is when they need support.''

However over the past four weeks there had also been an influx of people who had been laid off.

Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin says demand has spiked. Photo / File
Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin says demand has spiked. Photo / File

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin told the Bay of Plenty Times this week that 543 food parcels had been handed out in the past four weeks.

Goodwin said the foodbank had handed out 223 more food parcels than the same four-week period last year, a 70 per cent increase.

She said this included 299 parcels in the past three weeks, of which 95 or almost one third were for people who had never sought help from the foodbank before.

"There has been a real mix of people coming to us. We've had quite a few people who either lost their jobs or are on reduced hours, as well as a number of self-employed people, some who have been forced to shut their business."

Goodwin said there also had been an increase in the elderly with no family support using the foodbank and far more referrals from schools and the Civil Defence emergency management group.

Last year the Bay of Plenty Times raised a record $153,961.40 for the Tauranga Community Foodbank through its annual Christmas Appeal.