When Darryl Evans turned up for work at a Māngere food bank at 6am today, there were 189 people waiting outside.
The queue outside the Māngere Budgeting Service grew over the day, and at one point people were waiting four hours to get a food parcel. Evans, the CEO at the service, had to order in portaloos for the crowd.
"Monday we had 302 families, Tuesday we had 340, Wednesday 602, Thursday 712, and today we've done 796," he said.
"It's almost as if a tsunami has happened."
Before Covid-19, the service gave out between 35 and 40 food parcels a day. It has had to close early most days after running out of the packages, which feed the average family for about five days.
In the queue were people recently made jobless, working families, and migrants with temporary work permits who did not qualify for welfare, including a large group of Filipino construction workers.
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As the economic fallout from Covid-19 hits, the number of families struggling to put food on the table is soaring. The Salvation Army reported a 350 per cent jump in demand for food parcels since the lockdown began.
Newly released Ministry of Social Development figures showed the number of food grants had jumped from about 25,000 a week to 70,000 a week after lockdown.
Councils have set up emergency food banks to help people in hardship. Auckland Council is running a major operation out of Spark Arena.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson acknowledged today many families were struggling, while adding there was sufficient support available for them.
"Many New Zealanders have found their outgoings to be ones that they are struggling to meet. And I think that for low-income New Zealanders that's a particular burden.
He added: "I do realise that for some people this is a very tough time, but the supports are in place for them."
The Government said this week it would spend another $30m on food security and welfare, after a $27m boost for NGOs a month ago.
Robertson said the Government had also moved quickly at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis to lift core benefits by $25 a week and double the Winter Energy Payment.
The Salvation Army said this week benefits needed to be lifted further so families could afford the bare essentials.
Data published by MSD today showed the number of people on a Jobseeker benefit had jumped by 30,000 during the month New Zealand had been in lockdown.
A total of 174,630 people were now on the Jobseeker benefit on April 17, up from 145,006 at the same time in March.
The numbers were likely to have been far higher without the Government's wage subsidy scheme, which encourages employers to keep staff on.
"I actually think the figure of 30,000, while it is particularly distressing for the individuals involved, and a percentage of the population, it is low compared to the numbers in the wage subsidy scheme," Robertson said.
In all, 500,000 claims for the subsidy scheme have been paid out, totalling $10.3 billion in subsidies for Covid-affected businesses.