Bread and instant noodles are the staple foods getting some families through level 4 - and one charity says this lockdown is far worse than previous ones.
KidsCan has today launched an urgent appeal to get food parcels to 2500 families in Auckland and Wellington, which have been worst hit by Covid-19.
The charity's CEO Julie Chapman said most people would struggle to survive on the budgets these families have.
"Any cut to their income has a significant effect on their ability to provide food."
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With many local supermarkets closed because they're locations of interest, people without cars are too scared to take public transport so they are buying their food from the dairy. Those that make it to the supermarket are finding the cheap brands have been cleared out, Chapman said.
Parents have also lost the financial support that comes from free breakfasts and lunches at school.
"Many are saying it's the hardest lockdown yet. I think because it was implemented so sharply - it had to be, we support that - but a lot of families didn't have time to prepare."
Liz Ferris, centre manager at Te Papapa Preschool in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga, said families who had previously coped were now crippled financially.
Around half of the preschool's families had requested food parcels in previous lockdowns - this time 44 out of 47 needed help. Some were tossing up between putting food on the table or keeping the power on so that children could keep learning.
"Two-minute noodles are the staple that fills their bellies up. There's no beautifully home cooked meals, to be honest, they're just surviving on whatever's the cheapest...they might be making something with the noodles like a stir-fy using some vegetables. It's heartbreaking."
Those in low-paid work were feeling the drop in income, despite the wage subsidy. In one family the husband had been doing double shifts but was now getting only 80 per cent of his normal hours, which is less than half his usual pay.
The preschool's cupboards and freezer have been emptied to make food packs, Ferris said.
Yesterday the Government announced an extra $7 million to help distribute food parcels and welfare packages.
One single mum, who asked to be known as Janet, had just $30 after paying her rent.
She had just started a job at a new cafe in July. The owners paid their employees 80 per cent of last week's wage, thinking they would be entitled to the wage subsidy.
Janet got $460, but $430 went on rent. Desperate, she called Work and Income - who told her to wait for the wage subsidy.
Now the company has been told they're too new to get the subsidy anyway.
"I have to call Winz again and ask them to let me know how to feed my kid. They said I'd just have to wait till next week and get a food parcel."
Janet said she had always prided herself on taking care of her daughter, who's eight, on her own.
"Being a single mum, I find it embarrassing to ask for free frood. I never thought of myself as someone that needed it."
Last year Janet was offered a great job in Australia - but then the border closed and she and her daughter ended up living in a garage.
"I have found lockdowns very, very hard. I have depression and anxiety and my daughter's with me 24 hours a day."
Another mum told the Herald her budget had been tight because her partner - a building insulator - had very few jobs in the last three weeks. They were already behind on bills when lockdown hit.
They've got three kids at home and have taken in her two younger siblings, and for the first time have had to turn to food parcels.
The family is trying to eke out their money until they hear back about their wage subsidy request. Meanwhile, she's reluctant to ask Work and Income for help, having seen reports of people being turned away.
"Being rejected - it messes with you. It makes you feel sad and upset.," she said. "I get quite nervous and I am the type of person that doesn't like to rely too much on asking for help."
KidsCan is aiming to raise $500,000 for 2500 Foodbox parcels, with deliveries starting Monday to families in Auckland and Wellington which have been worst hit by the virus.
Each $200 parcel contains include bread, cheese, milk, butter, fruit, veges, mince, chicken, sausages, eggs, and pantry staples like olive oil, flour, baked beans, rice, oats, pasta, and pasta sauce.
To donate $19, go to www.19for19.org.nz.