Kāpiti Community Foodbank has a new home.
The foodbank is relocating from a building next to an expressway off-ramp in Kāpiti Rd, to a space in the Kāpiti Community Centre, 15A Ngahina St, Paraparaumu.
It has a secured a two-year lease with the Kāpiti Coast District Council.
Foodbank co-ordinator Kerry Lovell said the foodbank had worked very closely with the council and its welfare team during lockdown.
"They became very acutely aware that a big part of our needs was finding new premises."
Discussions led to the foodbank using part of the community centre.
"We feel that we can make it work."
The new base is a far cry from the old building it was using on a month by month lease basis from the NZ Transport Agency.
It is safer, visually appealing, has warmth, and there's no issues with rodents or vandalism.
There is a large main room as well as an office space, four storage rooms, kitchen and toilet facilities.
Public access to the foodbank is via a southern entrance only.
One of the first things the foodbank had to do was organise shelving for the larger space.
The shelving has been purpose built using secondhand materials by Adjustable Shelving, Lower Hutt.
"They gave us a huge discount and have been very helpful."
The shelving is relocatable in case the foodbank has to move in the future depending on council's long-term plans.
"The foodbank will always need shelving.
"I think it's easy to underestimate how big the foodbank has got and how many people we are now helping out.
"We've got 10 families a day coming in and it's surprising how much food that comprises.
"We can clear out the shelves very quickly in two to three days."
Lovell, who now has her own office which will enable privacy to discuss client needs, said the foodbank had been busy and the type of people using it had changed.
"A lot of families are struggling with winter bills, normal bills, some people have lost subsidies, and we've seen business people come in because they've lost jobs."
Feedback from the foodbank's volunteer staff was one of excitement for two key reasons — it is safer and warmer.
"The old place, which we were very appreciative of, was very cold and windy with continual rodent problems, a target for graffiti, and quite often doors were knocked in when we arrived in the morning."
The new premises, which has a heat pump, has been configured so the operation can be more efficient.
"We can just concentrate on food coming and food going out."
The food bank's move was part of a process to transition the community centre's services to better support the community in the wake of Covid-19.
"Te Newhanga Kāpiti Community Centre is a valued community asset and we've been working to explore the potential for it to be used in different ways to support the changing needs of Kāpiti," council's people and partnerships group manager Janice McDougall said.
"Covid-19 is different from any event we have experienced before and the full impacts have yet to be felt. We know that new pressures on households will increase hardship on the Kāpiti Coast, and our local community and social services are bracing for impact.
"To best support our community, it's vital that these services are connected and collaborating.
"This is why we will be transitioning the centre to a community services hub that will bring our not-for-profit community sector together and establish and strengthen programmes that focus on food security and community resilience.
"Expect to see new programmes and outreach style services, and increased access to key community organisations and their services."
The food bank's move follows remedial works at the centre to temporarily address weathertightness issues which were identified following an investigation by Miyamoto New Zealand in 2019.
Council has worked closely with Miyamoto and upon further review of the initial report, have clarified that a number of remedial and maintenance works will ensure the centre can continue to remain open safely, with a management control plan in place.
The remedial work includes roof repairs, fixing leaks, improving ventilation, and sealing door frames.
The centre's room hire function, which will restart in August, will still be available to community organisations and groups.
The food bank is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 12 noon.