One Rotorua charity is feeding up to 3000 people a week as need for food in the district spikes to new levels.
As the effects of Covid-19 take their toll, providers are boosting their services to meet demand with a local foodbank opening six days a week, rather than the usual three.
Co-director of Rotorua Whakaora Elmer Peiffer said the need for food had ramped up to "unprecedented" levels.
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"We are feeding about 2000 to 3000 people a week from Rotorua, Murupara, Galatea and other neighbouring towns
"We haven't experienced need this great before... many of them are first-time visitors too."
He said for many, they just needed a top-up in such a difficult time.
On Friday, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology culinary course partnered with Rotorua Whakaora, to supply takeaway meals for those in need.
There were six meals to choose from including a gourmet lamb burger with watercress coleslaw, Nepalese spicy grilled chicken on steamed rice and Horopito pulled pork with stuffed potatoes and winter vegetables.
Not only that, but people were able to also take away a bag of produce and a bag of bakery goods to get them through, as well as a slice of dessert.
Co-director of Rotorua Whakaora Elmer Peiffer said they had a "fantastic turnout" with 410 meals being churned out by about 12 students.
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About 350 of these were dished out to people who came on the day and the rest were saved and distributed to the Tokoroa community.
He said students were required to make a certain amount of meals to pass the course and it was not looking positive with events cancelled under Covid-19 restrictions.
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However, he said this meant many of them got across the line, while also giving back.
"The students were blown up by the response from the public."
He said many spoke with the people they were feeding and were able to hear their stories.
"For many, it gave them a new sense of gratitude for what difference their work can make for some people."
One woman, who had never been to a food distribution before, came down on the verge of tears to see if she could join in.
After going through and getting her meal and supplies, she was "bawling her eyes out" from the generosity, Peiffer said.
"Food security is such a huge thing for people."
This was echoed by Rotorua's Salvation Army Foodbank who had needed to open six days a week, instead of their normal three to keep up with demand.
Corps officer Kylie Overbye said Covid-19 had seen a large escalation in food parcel need.
She said they were giving between five and 30 food parcels per day, six days a week over level 3 and 4.
From January to May 2019, Rotorua's Salvation Army provided assistance for 737 clients. This number had more than doubled in the same period this year.
Demand had slowed since level 2 came in, with many families resuming a normal routine and getting support from school and work.
"People receiving support have been largely families affected by Covid either through not being able to access other services, wage reduction, job loss, or beneficiaries who were experiencing greater consumption of consumables due to being in lockdown.
"We are yet to experience the longer-term effects from Covid-19 and we anticipate we will likely see an increase in demand as the economic effects on the country sets in."
Toi Ohomai's academic leader of tourism and hospitality Bryon Dorrian said projects like the Rotorua Whakaora collaboration was a great way to teach the students the philosophy
of being a sustainable chef, in more ways than just environmental.
He said it was a "win-win" as local involvement, through business, charity or employment, reaped rewards.
The students relished in the day as they knew they were giving back when the community needed it the most, he said.
Student Lisa Marie Rota said the day was an "awesome experience" and they were "proud to contribute to the community".