The demand for food has skyrocketed since the latest lockdown in Rotorua, quadrupling in some areas, according to one charity.
From incomes falling or job losses to bills piling up and hungry kids not benefitting from school lunches programmes, the need for help to put food on the table is growing. Many were seeking help for the first time.
Rotorua Whakaroa's Elmer Peiffer said in some areas, numbers have tripled or quadrupled in terms of those accessing food support, highlighting the "desperate" need in the city.
On Friday and Saturday, Whakaroa fed 720 people.
"Normally, what we distribute to Mokoia, Linton Park Community Centre plus our three days at Central, we'll feed anywhere between 1000 to 1200 mouths.
"To reach 700 in just two days at the one location is eye-opening."
He said they had also been supporting Whakarewarewa Village prior to lockdown, and the usual 20 families had quadrupled since level 4.
"We're looking at every possible avenue in regards to getting food."
Out of those currently being supported, between 25 and 30 per cent are new, he said.
The reasons people couldn't afford food on their own varied, he said, most of which were around a loss of income partially or altogether.
He said the New Zealand Food Network delivered two pallets on Monday and they would continue to make their usual trips to Hastings to get up to seven pallets of food.
They would also continue to collect from the three Countdown supermarkets in the city, and the community was helping out through things like picking citrus off their trees.
"We always make sure we have enough food," he said, and wanted to reiterate that people could only collect once a week, after some had tried to come several times at the different locations.
"We need to make sure we get this food out to everybody that needs it."
He suspected the demand would remain at the current high levels until around two weeks once the city moved to level 2.
However, he said there could be some who continued using the service now they know it exists.
"We've had people say, oh these people need it more than I do ... a need is a need, it doesn't matter how large or small it is. If you have a need, that's what we're here for."
Rotorua Budget Advisory Services manager Pakanui Tuhura said some people live day-to-day in terms of providing food for themselves and their families.
He said cutting back food bills was usually where people turn when trying to manage budgets, and many clients were used to making do with whatever they have.
Sometimes it was valid, like cutting expensive takeaways or expensive ingredients, he said, but sometimes it was because other costs and debts were prioritised over food.
When this happens, Tuhura said the team advise on the importance of food costs and nutrition, and suggest other ways to get food, like foodbanks, neighbourhood gathering, and family and friends' support.
A Rotorua single mother of two, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said her weekly supermarket shop went from usually $80 to $130 in the first week of lockdown.
She only worked part-time and earned $450 a week and said having the kids at home, who would usually get the free lunches at school, added to the bill on the already high cost of living.
The woman is a permanent resident and has lived in New Zealand for eight years.
"How am I going to give a good life to my young kids," she said.
Rotorua Salvation Army had delivered 239 parcels to whānau since lockdown began, which was high compared to the usual food welfare support, corps officer Kylie Overbye said.
The parcels ranged from three to five days of food per parcel depending on circumstances, and the size of the parcel varied depending on how many people were in each family.
However, Overbye said the demand was not as high as last year. She suspected people were more aware of life in lockdown and were both more prepared and understood how to access food.
It had also been educating people over the phone a bit more than last time on how to budget and keep food on the table to see this season through.
The majority of people it helped were beneficiaries and people in emergency housing, most of whom had children who ate more when they are at home or in limbo, she said.
"Some senior folk have also not been able to access supermarkets for a variety of reasons and we've helped provide food to those in tricky situations like that."
The main cause of people needing the help was bills, which may be due to extra outgoing expenses from being at home, she said.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said many people paid for rent, power and petrol to get to work, but had nothing left for food.
Food insecurity was an issue for a "huge" number of clients and was often what brought people to the service, she said, and even those with money in their budget didn't have much.
Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said savings used to get by in lockdown last year were now gone, and even those who had been budgeting "extremely well" were getting behind in their bills.
She said the speed at which demand hit was "surprising" as it broke a record of distributing 402 food parcels between the first Thursday of lockdown and last Friday, helping 1314 people.
The foodbank also delivered 98 parcels during this same time, with parcels containing 5256 days worth of food, which would create at least 15,768 meals.
While the move to levels 3 and 2 had settled the demand, with many people able to go back to work, there is still "a lot of hardship".
Good Neighbour, a Tauranga food rescue service that supports 72 charities and organisations, had seen the demand for food constantly on the rise since lockdown last year.
Manager Simone Gibson said requests for help were for the basics such as produce, cereal and milk.
"People aren't asking for the luxuries, they're asking for the necessities."