Port Taranaki has partnered with North Taranaki foodbanks to help support individuals and families in need.

Each week, for the next 58 weeks, Port Taranaki will fund 30 packets of meat (500g each), which will be included in some of the food parcels the foodbanks distribute. In total, Port Taranaki will donate about 1740 packets of meat.

New Plymouth butchery TLC Meats has come onboard, providing the meat products to Port Taranaki at wholesale rates and preparing the packets for pick-up and delivery.

Fifteen meat packs each week will be distributed by the New Plymouth Community Foodbank, which also services Bell Block, 10 packs by Waitara Foodbank – Kai Potaka, and five packs by Inglewood Community Foodbank.

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"The foodbanks in Taranaki do an amazing job helping out people who are finding times a bit tough and need some assistance," Port Taranaki head of commercial Ross Dingle says.

"We're a Taranaki company, owned by the community, and one of our aims is to support and give back to the community. Foodbanks rely solely on donations to operate so we want to be able to support them and help out in some way."

Ross says it's likely more people will need support in coming months as the impact of Covid-19 was felt across the region.

"It's a pretty difficult time for many people in our community. Many have lost jobs, weren't able to make an income during the Covid-19 lockdown, or have had a reduction in work hours, so we hope our contribution can help ease some of the stress of putting nutritious, healthy food on the table.

"Thanks to Tony Varga and the team at TLC Meats for their support, and a huge thanks to the foodbank managers and the many volunteers for all the work they do in our communities."

The New Plymouth, Waitara and Inglewood foodbanks say they are "very grateful" for the support.

"This is one of our dreams come true. Businesses are doing it tough as well at the moment, so this sponsorship is just so valuable and we're very appreciative of it," New Plymouth Community Foodbank manager Sharon Wills says.

"This type of support can quite simply be the difference between either someone eating tonight or not, or whether a kid goes to school or not because they don't have food for lunch."

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She says the sponsorship also gives the New Plymouth foodbank some security going forward.

"Every item we have has been donated – we have no security of funding. So to have this support for 58 weeks gives us a level of security for a longer period of time.

"Meat is expensive – it's not in people's budgets. This gives us the opportunity to pack in one meat meal in some food parcels each week to help people out, which is fantastic."

Waitara Foodbank – Kai Potaka trustee and treasurer Tiri Porter agrees, and says the foodbank is "excited to connect with an organisation willing to contribute and give back to the community".

"This absolutely makes a big difference to our supply. With the port's commitment we know there will be meat coming in, whereas before we just hoped for the best.

"It will be able to be used to make hearty meals for families and it will complement what we have in the pantry, which will help supplies go a bit further."

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Inglewood Community Foodbank co-ordinator Fred Taylor says they are "delighted" with the support.

"It is a really thoughtful and generous offer, which is much appreciated in these difficult times, and we know how grateful our clients will be."

Sharon says as the full impact of Covid-19 hits, foodbanks are expecting to experience greater demand.

"We're now getting people in saying they've lost their job, or they're not starting a new job for three weeks, or they're running out of their savings. It's a tough time and is likely to get tougher in the next few months."