A Christmas lunch for needy families is off the menu but on comes a takeaway hangi and other goodies as demand for food parcels in Northland soars.
The Salvation Army in Whangārei will give away 150 hangi packs on Christmas Day, apart from hampers and presents made possible through donation from members of the public and businesses.
Another charity, 155 Community House, which also caters for the needy including the homeless, is experiencing a high demand for food and has given away more than 1,000 food parcels between mid-August and mid-October.
The charity received $6,000 in much-needed donations to its food bank recently and is appealing for more.
Salvation Army Whangārei team leader community ministries Trevor McLean said in the absence of the annual Christmas lunch, a hangi was a way of providing something for needy families this festive season.
"We do monthly hangi at work but this one is specifically for the community. Each hangi pack will also contain pudding and fry bread and we're going to do up to 150, which is our normal Christmas lunch."
McLean said while his staff have had to buy meat, donations for food parcels, Christmas hampers, presents and vouchers have been good so far.
About 258 hampers will be given out either Wednesday or Thursday while the weekly supply of 160 food parcels across Northland will continue as normal, he said.
"The numbers getting food parcels have been quite steady until early December, when families started saving for Christmas and their holidays. But we're in a pretty good situation at the moment with donations," he said.
McLean said 58 members of the public and organisations were sponsoring a family this Christmas with presents and food parcels.
At 155 Open Arms, the demand for kai remains high and volunteers are dishing out on average 100 food parcels a week.
The charity is organising a lunch for 80 people on Christmas Eve.
Food bank co-ordinator Sam Cassidy said there was enough food at the moment but would be grateful for any donations of kai and money over the coming weeks as some families would struggle in the New Year.
Donations can be dropped off at 155 Open Arms, 102 Robert St, during opening hours, and cash can be donated online, www.155.org.nz/donate.
Call 09 437 0185 ext 4 or freephone 0800 120 926 for queries on donations.