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Foodbank demand skyrockets

Karen Chalmers and Yvonne O’Dowd fill food parcels in Carterton. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

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Lockdown restrictions, increasing financial stresses, and general economic uncertainty due to covid-19, have had the Masterton Foodbank busier than ever this month.

Lyn Tankersley and Hayden McGrail at Masterton Foodbank. PHOTO/LISA URBANI

Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley and her partner Hayden McGrail had been putting in 50 to 60 hours each week to keep up with increased demand.

“March was a huge month even though we hadn’t gone into complete lockdown yet. It was the biggest month we’ve ever done.”

She said they had prepared more than 500 parcels for families – some of which supported from 10 to 11 family members, so it wasn’t always a case of just one large item per parcel.

The parcels supported 1870 people – 876 children and 994 adults.

While donations had risen with the demand, she said they were still struggling to fill shelves and were in need of more donations.

“The one big barrier we have at the moment is getting enough food to put in the parcels.

“We’re not getting the usual church deliveries, and there’s been a huge reduction in donated goods.”

There had been an increase in monetary donations, which was “lovely”, she said.

Commercial donations had also come from restaurants forced to close during lockdown and Premier Beehive.

She said there was no pattern of demand for the foodbank’s services, but they were certainly busy now.

“If people can afford to buy one extra item to donate at the supermarket, that would be fantastic.

“We understand many people can’t keep doing that, but the region is doing so well.”

Carterton Foodbank chairwoman Yvonne Ward said demand had increased in the past week.

“It’s starting to affect everyone as the reality sinks in, I think.

“It’s the unknown. When you go a week without wages, it can have a toll.”

Since reopening on April 6, they had put together about 28 parcels which supported 55 adults and 54 children in Carterton.

She worried there were more people in need and encouraged them to get in touch.

“That’s what we’re here for, to lend a helping hand.”

Like Tankersley, she agreed it had been more difficult to get food.

“We always put flour and sugar in the parcels, but we are having to be more careful with that because it’s been harder to get.”

She thanked people for their generosity and said it was much appreciated.

“We have seen an increase in donations and that’s been wonderful.”

South Wairarapa Foodbank co-ordinator Indigo Freya at work. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

Meanwhile, things have been quieter than expected at the South Wairarapa Foodbank, co-ordinator Indigo Freya said.

“I think that’s because most people are using their connections and agencies and getting stuff through them.

“We expect levels to rise as the lockdown is lifted.”

Since March 20, they had prepared parcels for 49 households supporting 95 adults and 72 children.

The foodbank used to be open five days a week but had since dropped to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 3pm.

Despite relatively low levels of demand, she had still had to top up on supplies.

“I’m restocking by buying, which I haven’t had to do since Christmas.”

May Croft said demand for food parcels from the Martinborough Foodbank had doubled since the lockdown began.

She also gave a “big shout out” to the Martinborough community who had been so generous with their donations.

Food parcels can be accessed by contacting her on 021 657560 – parcels will be delivered.

“During lockdown it’s called toot and run,” she said.


  • Donations to Masterton Foodbank can be made via its Westpac Account: 03 0687 0313360 00.
  • Donations to Carterton Community Food Collaborative can be made via its BNZ Account: 02 0608 0048731 00.
  • Donations to South Wairarapa Foodbank Collective can be made to its Kiwibank Account: 38 9020 0577385 00.
  • Donations to Martinborough Foodbank can be made to its ANZ Account: 01 0505 0422831 53.
  • Donation points can also be found in all supermarkets.

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