More people in Rotorua are needing emergency food parcels this year and with this week being the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, people are being encouraged to give.

Despite the economy growing by more than 12 per cent in the past five years, 300,000 New Zealand children live in income poverty and this is one of the Salvation Army's key concerns.

In the financial year ending March 31 this year, 1092 Rotorua families were provided emergency food parcels, a 5.85 per cent increase compared with the same period the year before.

The Salvation Army's divisional secretary for social services, Captain Raewyn Gardner, said Rotorua people were generally very supportive.


"The foodbank is always in need of food donations and financial donations, we can be stocked up one minute but it can very quickly deplete without the support of the community.

"People who come in need food first but it's never about that, there's always underlining things.

"Our people have to talk with them and help them with many other things ... it's about building self-esteem and helping them to be able to cope with what's going on in their lives."

Across the past year, over 120,000 adults and dependent children nationally were provided either emergency food parcels or assistance in areas such as accommodation, social work, addiction services and social support from the army.

Captain Gardner said more than one-quarter of a million children were living in poverty in New Zealand and half this number were in crowded, substandard living conditions.

"Of these children, over 68,000 under-18-year-olds have parents that regularly access our services."

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As overcrowding remains an issue in the main centres and the provinces alike, the army provided a further 89,020 bed nights to individuals and families in need who would otherwise be homeless.

When housing prices are rising faster than wages and salaries, ministries across the nation are reporting the number of those living in unsuitable environments, on the streets or in cars is growing.

"Numbers can numb the mind, but the individual human beings will break your heart," Captain Gardner said.

"Our services provide the network, tools and basic food necessities to break the cycle. Our appeal gives Kiwis the opportunity to be the difference," Captain Gardner said.

Providing the safety net and support that individuals need to make a positive change, Community Ministries sees itself as a doorway to a range of services which include social work, budgeting, emergency housing, employment training, and personal development programmes.

Ways to donate to the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal:

* Freephone (0800) 530 000

* Online at

* Select a gift from The Salvation Army Gifts of Hope catalogue (

* Approved street collectors May 2 to 8

* Appeal envelope inserts

* At Countdown checkouts and Salvation Army Family Stores