Hoping to keep food bank cupboard full

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Can collection . . . Family Works practice manager Jollene Warrington shows some of the items needed at next week's Octacan appeal. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

As demand for food parcels increases, one Dunedin organisation is hoping to keep its food bank well-stocked.

Presbyterian Support Otago will hold its annual can collection, Octacan, in the Octagon on July 30.

Family Works practice manager Jollene Warrington said the most wanted items were cans and non-perishable goods.

This included spaghetti, baked beans, pasta sauces and soup.

The organisation hoped to collect 14,500 cans and raise $6000, which should last until the combined food banks’ appeal in December.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, staff continued to supply food parcels to people and families in need.

While there was a “lull” initially, demand had picked up due to increased power bills and having more mouths to feed as people stayed home, she said.

“We had a number of referrals from new clients who were receiving the wage subsidy and were still struggling to make ends meet.”

Mrs Warrington estimated demand for parcels had increased by about 30% compared with the same time last year.

The majority were new clients who had lost their jobs or had their work hours reduced, she said.

The food bank shelves were kept stocked thanks to some “really generous people” and businesses.

“People have been amazing through Covid and the donations have kept coming.”

Businesses that were forced to shut gave some of their fresh food, which was a welcome addition to the food parcels.

“We are looking good but we’re also preparing for August-September when the wage subsidy runs out.

“We don’t know what that’s going to look like[but] we’re predicting a third wave.”

There had been significantly more parcels handed out in the school holidays, which ended last week, too, she said.

On the day, people were welcome to drop their items off and add to the giant heart-shaped collections of cans in the Octagon.

Some schools had already made a contribution.