When Ezra Johnson opened his food bank box for the first time, he didn't expect it to do much more than feed him and his family.
He reached out to the Tauranga Community Foodbank for the first time in June last year when life spiralled out of control. He faced homelessness, substance abuse, debt and marriage troubles.
The four parcels he received relieved the pressure and helped him find balance. However things turned south and Johnson is using the food bank's help again.
"I can remember thinking a few times in the last couple of weeks, how am I going to buy food?"
He said the generosity from the community seen during the Bay of Plenty Times annual six-week Christmas Appeal, in partnership with Gilmours Wholesale Food and Beverage Tauriko, was what helped him work on many aspects of his life.
Last year, Johnson was content with his job as a supervisor at an asphalt company and happy in his marriage with his wife of two-and-a-half years and their five children between them.
However, he spread himself too thin which put him under a lot of pressure.
This resulted in him breaking a six-year-sober streak which led to gambling and large debt.
This was the first time he asked for the food bank's help.
"I had always been the kind of person to provide for myself ... to actually say 'we can't do this on our own' and then go ask for help, it was pretty hard.
"It's a big thing to know the kids are going to go away and not be starving at school. It relieves a huge amount of pressure."
Things were good for a while, but cracks formed in their marriage due to his substance abuse and he ended up on the streets for a time.
One of the biggest things he struggled with while homeless was where to sleep and what to eat.
He went to rehab this year and reconnected with the church which he said had been pivotal in helping him clean up his life.
He then enrolled in Christians Against Poverty's budgeting service, which gave him a better grasp on his spending.
Christians Against Poverty, a food bank referral partner, connected him to the food bank.
"During our hard times with all the other stress that was going on with the children, our marriage, even just cost of fuel ... [food bank parcels] relieved a lot of stress."
Food bank's support has helped with all aspects he struggled with and played an instrumental role in his recovery.
"It's been a good period of settling into my new place and finding myself again, but also building trust back with my wife."
They were living separately as they worked through a "rough year", but were spending most time together now and he had recently been sharing more responsibility for the children.
The parcels also forced him to experiment more as they included food he had not previously cooked with.
"You've got to get a bit more creative in the way you cook, which is cool."
This, as well his time in rehab where they took turns cooking, gave him a new-found love for cooking.
In his first parcel since coming out of rehab, there was a whole chicken, something he had never tackled in the kitchen before as he was worried about not cooking it properly.
Thinking back to watching his wife or mother cook it, he gave it a go.
"Chucked a few lemons inside it that I got from food bank, some herbs and spices they put in the pack, smudged it over, and my kids loved it," he said.
"I was kind of nervous about it and my kids were like - I love this - and I thought I've got to try some ... Even I enjoyed it," he laughed.
"It was a special first chicken."
He was unemployed while working on his recovery, but has applied for a job at the Port of Tauranga.