Workers from the Hamilton Combined Christian Foodbank were busy last week picking up donations from Hamilton schools in preparation for the busy Christmas and post-Christmas period.

The HCCFB and the Salvation Army are the two major food banks providing for the needy during the year and often call for additional donations to cover the holiday season.

The HCCFB has recently commemorated its 20th year. An analysis of food bank statistics since 1998 showed the demand for food-aid had stayed consistent over the period.
In the most recent full year, 2017-18 it spent $244,762 on 4052 parcels catering to 6956 adults and 6308 children.

Methodist City Action co-ordinator Wendy Nickalls said there was talk among supporting agencies of further addressing the root causes of the need for food-relief.

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Last week the food bank staff picked up donations provided by Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and Southwell School.

Nickalls said several schools which had donated were no longer doing so and there was a need for the food bank organisation to renew and expand its association with new schools and with schools which had previously been supportive.

HCCFB manager Louisa Humphry said the service got a lot of requests from people in emergency housing and it was very grateful for the generosity of the young people in the schools.

Over the year the Salvation Army in Hamilton has provided 2747 to 1239 clients and through other services provided another 805 food parcels.

Hamilton Salvation Army centre director Jenny Collings said donations of food and toys come from the general public, businesses, organisations, schools and its own congregation. Some event organisers also dedicated funds collected to supporting the work of the Army.

The Salvation Army has a partnership with Countdown supermarkets which allow Countdown customers to donate food online through website www.foodbank.org.nz.
"The collaboration with Countdown has been very successful and allows people to place an order which will be delivered to the food bank."

Collings said the underlying driver of food-need was housing costs, in particular high rentals, which demonstrated the need for safe and stable housing for people on low incomes.

Meanwhile, food bank agencies will be closed over Christmas. However community meals will be provided by Te Whanau Putahi (37 Oxford St, Fairfield) every Sunday and The Serve (4 Harwood St, Central City) 6pm every day.

The main Christmas meal for the year will be provided this year by the Salvation Army at 99 London St, at noon on Christmas Day. This meal requires purchasing a ticket ($5) beforehand. Due to limited space, the Salvation Army Christmas meal can cater to a maximum of 200 diners and is aimed at people who are alone.