Rising food insecurity underscores fundraising telethon.
The man had previously donated hams to the Christchurch City Mission food bank. This year, he sat outside in his car, grappling with his need to ask for help.
Zucchi Leonard, the Mission’s Social Services Manager leads the efforts to combat vulnerability and marginalisation, as it has done for the past 95 years in support of the city and its people. He says the man found himself in the position of those he had formerly helped: “There are so many people working hard in life but things just throw a curveball at them and, for a brief period, things go off kilter and they need that support.”
The food bank is just part of the crucial services undertaken by the 140-strong team, including emergency housing, financial mentoring, addiction recovery programs, and a comprehensive learning and development hub.
But the food bank is a standout feature of the Mission’s operations, with its self-serve, points-based model. Clients navigate a supermarket-like setup, selecting items that meet their specific needs. Dignity and choice is paramount when as with the example of the man in the car, food insecurity can hit anyone at any time.
The Mission’s food bank is not without obstacles. The increasing demand for food parcels has strained resources – in October last year, the Mission distributed 1306 food parcels; by the same month in 2023, this number had risen to 1551 – an increase of 245 parcels.
This trend is consistent across other months as well; August saw an increase from 1368 parcels in 2022 to 1653 this year, a rise of 285 parcels.
In the face of these increasing food insecurity challenges, ‘Meat the Need’, a charity initiative, is emerging as a vital partner for the Mission. This organisation steps in to fill a crucial gap by providing a steady stream of protein-rich food, essential for a balanced diet. ‘Meat the Need’ sources meat donations from farmers across New Zealand.
To overcome the logistics and scale of the protein rich food packet supply, ‘Meat the Need’ is supported by Silver Fern Farms, a leading New Zealand meat processing company. Through their collaboration with ‘Meat the Need’, Silver Fern Farms facilitates the process of collecting and distributing meat donations.
Zucchi says: “It’s a source of protein, which is essential in a nutritious diet. But also, you know, it’s incredibly hard to access a continual supply of protein.”
His vision extends beyond immediate relief. “Just imagine if every farmer had that ability to donate one beast, what that would look like, as far as quantity for and how that could be shared?”
The Christchurch City Mission, with the support of ‘Meat the Need’ and Silver Fern Farms, is more than a safety net; it could be a springboard to a better future. Zucchi wants people to consider their role – whether through donations, volunteering, or simply spreading awareness, “we all have the power to make a difference”, he says.
The December 14 telethon for ‘Meat the Need’, will be a dynamic event featuring inspiring stories, live entertainment, and interactive content. Highlighting the impact of contributions, it will include appearances by local celebrities and leaders, aiming to raise funds and awareness of New Zealand’s food insecurity. Contributions are welcome via phone, online, or by spreading the word.
For more information: meattheneed.org