The Sikh community has expanded its successful food donation operation in Auckland to help Tauranga families in need during lockdown. And it's all driven by a religious principle to share with others.

"Of the three basic principles of Sikhism, one of them is you must share with others," said Daljit Singh from the Supreme Sikh Society. "The Sikh community started from Takanini Gurudwara to go to the wider community to feed them, while everybody has problems during these issues. We're distributing almost 12 tonnes of food each day from Takanini Gurudwara.

"People from Tauranga started calling us in Auckland saying they need help because it's gone very wide. We approached the Sikh Gurudwara here in Tauranga, so we should actually run a foodbank from there as well."

Most of the food being donated has come from local growers and producers.

"The food parcels actually include milk, bread, fresh vegetables and fresh food. It's enough for a family to run at least four days. Most of the food we bought from the markets," Singh said. "We have people known to the Gurudwara who are growing vegetables and even the apples and kiwifruit, we know the growers who are having this food so we're getting it directly from them."

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And the Tauranga operation is not small by any means.

"We have 30 volunteers who are all aware of the health guidelines set by the ministry. While the Sikh Society has essential approval provider, we are making sure that each of our volunteers fully understand their obligations and must wear gloves and masks."

People collecting food are told to stay in their cars and pop their car boots for contactless delivery.

"So we ask them to sit in the car," he said. "Open their car boot and our guys will put their food bags in the car boot and they can move to the next gate."

The foodbank is filling a genuine need in the community with some people even walking to the local pick-up point to collect the food.

"Some of the text messages we're seeing… like a family that did not feed their kids for 12 hours and she rang us in the evening that they needed food. They're all needy people coming here."

But as long as there's a need, Singh says they will continue to support regional New Zealanders.

"If we see there's enough interest and enough families who really need food we will definitely continue. Otherwise the Auckland operation is continually going on. We already feed more than 10,000 families in New Zealand," said Singh.

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