The cupboards at Masterton Foodbank are almost bare as the volunteer group struggles to keep up with what it says is the highest demand it has seen in 15 years.

The foodbank gave out 242 food parcels in April, a 43 per cent increase on the number of parcels given out in February.

In March and April the foodbank fed 1602 adults and children, an increase of 524 people compared with the two months prior.

Co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley said that in the 15 years she had been volunteering for the foodbank, she had never known it to be so busy.


"We were a little bit shocked with our stats for March and we thought it's a one-off but then when we added up our stats for April we thought, 'oh my gosh'.

"It's a big increase in have this jump is pretty huge.

"We are having trouble keeping up with the stock -- our cupboards are bare. So all we want to do is make the community aware this is what is happening and if they can help in a little way it will help a lot, just by buying that extra can in their groceries each week."

The cans of fruit collected during the annual appeal in November, which usually lasted 12 months, had already almost run out, she said.

"Most of that stock usually lasts 12 months but it's going to be gone by the end of May. I don't think I've ever seen it like this before in May -- it's not good."

The number of children the foodbank fed jumped 53 per cent in April compared with February, with 470 kids fed from parcels.

The number of parcels destined for children was a sign families were hurting, Mrs Tankersley said.

"There is huge poverty out there that is maybe starting to affect middle income earners -- people who are working but just can't make ends meet.

"They will get a car bill or something like that and then aren't able to fed their family.

"For most of them it's unexpected bills or the car breaks down or a big power bill just might throw them off. Some of these people have two or three jobs trying to make ends meet. And they are just not making ends meet.

"They are not just people who are looking for a free handout. They are people who are really trying but they are struggling."

Mrs Tankersley said the foodbank had recorded a huge increase in the number of people being referred through agencies such as Work and Income or budgeting services, with 65 per cent of parcels given out in March and April originating from referrals.

While it received fantastic support from the community, any extra help people could give the foodbank would be appreciated, Mrs Tankersley said.

"All we are wanting to do is to make the public aware that if they are able to it would be really good to just consider helping to support the community and the foodbank.

"We don't really want money, people could just buy an extra can of spaghetti each week and put it in the box in the supermarket, or the colleges might be able to have a 'bring a can day' for mufti day. Or people might like to clear their pantry out of excess stock."