A Salvation Army captain has reached out to elderly Horowhenua residents amid concerns some could be starving themselves by paying the bills first and feeding themselves last.
Captain Chris Collings from the Levin Salvation Army Corps said they operated a food bank to help feed and support the most vulnerable in the community - no questions asked.
Captain Collings was speaking at the invitation of Horowhenua Grey Power at a recent meeting and told members that it was important to emphasis to elderly were just as entitled to seek help.
"You are just as entitled as anyone else," he said.
Horowhenua Grey Power president Terry Hemmingsen said more than 60 per cent of elderly were supported solely by their superannuation and were generally more cautious when it came to paying their bills.
"Even if that means going without in other areas - namely food," he said.
Hemmingsen said during the Covid-19 lockdown period many elderly took the message to stay home seriously, which in some cases was putting themselves at risk.
"They took the message so seriously that some ended up starving themselves. Not to death, but to the point of malnourishment," he said.
Captain Collings said there was a genuine need in the community post-Covid-19 and the demand for food parcels had risen by more than 500 per cent.
Where they might have provided 40 or 50 food parcels a month, there was a demand for 280 parcels in May this year, and Collings he had expected this during Covid-19, based on previous experience.
He expected the demand to mirror what happened during the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, where demand for food parcels rose considerable for the best party of a decade, before slowing again around 2017.
Captain Collings said there were misconceptions around eligibility of elderly that visit the food bank, one being that people had to register first and then come back and pick up food the next day.
He said there would be no questions asked if anyone came to them for assistance.
"If you are hungry and there is not a lot left over you are allowed to come and see us," he said.
"There is no need for anyone in our country to be under-nourished."
Captain Collings said there were a group of volunteers that gave their time to work at the foodbank each day.
The Salvation Army runs the inter-church food bank on bealf of other local churches and the service is self-referring and open every weekday between 9am and 12noon.