A last-minute $30,000 donation from a Tauranga company has helped push the total raised in this year's Christmas foodbank appeal to a record $190,990.
Synergy Technologies donated the money to the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, run in partnership with Gilmours Wholesale Food and Beverage Tauriko, on Thursday.
A total of $132,000 in cash had been raised by Friday afternoon, with 29,495 food items worth $58,990. Each food item is valued at $2.
This year's total of $190,990 surpasses last year's record of $153,961.40 in cash and food donations.
Synergy's donation - the highest in the foodbank appeal's 10-year history - follows other large donations, including $15,000 from the Port of Tauranga on Tuesday.
Synergy Technologies manager Rachel McKean said the company originally planned to donate $15,000, but when it realised how close the foodbank was to its goal of raising $120,000 in cash this year, it doubled the donation.
McKean and her husband, AJ, have had the business for just over five years and said they started it with the community as a core value.
From the start, they have donated 10 per cent of their service revenue to local charities.
She said with the good work the foodbank did, and the demand that was put on it, it was a no-brainer to donate the money.
"It's been a really challenging year. We wanted to do our part," she told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.
AJ said, as an organisation, it was always about "people first" and they found there was a positive impact on staff morale by having a focus on giving back to the community.
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said she "just about fell off my chair" when she saw the donation when she checked the account.
She said it was a "very generous" donation, which the foodbank, and people in the community needing the parcels, would appreciate.
The foodbank needed $120,000 for food alone heading into the new year.
Goodwin said the money raised would solely go towards food, and the foodbank would now reassess what goes into each parcel.
She said the team would explore options to include more protein in the parcels as well as more fresh produce.
Previously, the amount of money would have carried the foodbank through to July, but Goodwin said it was more likely to be around April given the high demand and the bigger parcels.
In the six weeks of the appeal, 773 parcels had been given to people and families in need.
This brought the total parcels handed out this year to 7164.
Parcels previously designed to last three days, to get someone through to payday, now provided a minimum of four days' worth of food, and Goodwin said during the appeal, more people needed parcels to last a week.
The soaring demand was because of Covid-19-related job losses on top of the housing crisis, which was causing unprecedented hardship even before the pandemic struck.
She predicted the demand next year would be similar to this year, and could increase unless income caught up to living costs.
This was illustrated, she said, in more single people needing support as they could not afford the cost of living on one income.
Bay of Plenty Times editor Scott Inglis said he was blown away by the generosity and support from the community for this year's appeal - including Synergy's contribution.
"If there was ever a year when we need to pull together and support our local city foodbank, this is it. And Tauranga has done just that.
"The support is amazing and I thank every business and person for their donations."
The demand for the foodbank's services is set against a backdrop of challenging social and economic indicators in the region.
Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty houses are estimated to cost more than 10 times the median household income, above the national average of nine, according to Priority One's latest Economic Monitor report.
The median value for Tauranga properties was $715,000, and $780,000 in the Western Bay, according to OneRoof.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment figures showed the mean weekly rent in August this year was $508 in Tauranga and $433 in the Western Bay.
The average income is also at a three-year low across the region, currently at $42,500 per year before tax, down from $42,952 in 2018.
The number of people on the Housing Register also soared 72 per cent in two years from 309 in June 2018 to 532 in June 2020.
On top of that, Ministry of Social Development data showed 9.3 per cent of work-ready people in the region were on the jobseeker benefit.
It was an increase from 14,400 in September last year to 20,400 in September this year.
The combined number of people in the Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Council on the jobseeker work-ready benefit was 3045 in September, up from 2026 the same time last year.