While most people are winding down for the holidays, Nicki Goodwin and her team of volunteers at the Tauranga Community Foodbank are busier than ever.
"The Tauranga Foodbank has been here 29 years which is good and bad," Goodwin said. "It's good that we've been here that long to support the community but it's something you'd like to think the community can do without.
"Essentially we provide food to people who would have nowhere else to source it from. So we're the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff for food. If we're not helping, there's nowhere else to get food from."
With Christmas less than a week away, the foodbank is averaging 40 to 45 food parcels a day.
"That's hundreds of people a day," said Goodwin. "Annually we're looking at probably, this year, between 17 and 18 thousand people. They're designed to get people through. We're looking at three days to get someone through to their next payday or to supplement that week's income."
Often, it's a sudden change in circumstances that catches some people out.
"Someone's been working and now they're not. If you then need to connect with ACC or Work and Income there's a downtime before that comes into play. So there's literally no money and no food," said Goodwin.
Ninety per cent of the people the Foodbank helps come from referrals.
"We've got 92 agencies in our community that identify people that need help; hospital departments, addiction services, schools, social workers, Plunket, hospice … just about anywhere you look – community centres, budget services, they're working with people for other reasons and that's when they find out someone has a need for food."
Anything that's donated is passed on, but they won't accept energy drinks or alcohol.
"There's a bit of a misconception out there about foodbanks not wanting canned tomatoes and canned food and those basic food items … we definitely do.
"Wishlists are a bit more exciting because they're things we can't afford to buy. That might be things for school lunches for kids, pasta sauces, soups, dressings, tomato sauce even, personal care items, deodorant, toothpastes, large nappies, baking items - things like cocoa, icing sugar ... Things like that go a long way and they are our most asked for items."
And because people don't just go hungry at Christmas, the foodbank is working all year round to support those needing an extra hand.
"Although we focus on Christmas, this appeal is to help with all those situations in the coming few months," Goodwin said.
Donations for the Christmas appeal will be accepted right up to Christmas Eve.
You can find out more by visiting taurangafoodbank.co.nz.
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