Big effort to restock food banks
The mid-winter "spaghetti" food drive has grown bigger than ever this year, with 12 schools and 17 businesses likely to round up about 7000 items for Palmerston North's food banks.
The mid-year food drive was started four years ago by Aleisha Rutherford, now Palmerston North's youngest city councillor, and her husband, Liam.
It was their response to finding out the food banks had run out of canned spaghetti.
"We believe it is our job to meet the needs in our community," Rutherford said.
"That's how society becomes a better place. This is just one way to do it."
Methodist Social Services food bank co-ordinator Stacey Rohloff said the timing of the midwinter food drive was "absolutely fabulous".
"The food from the Christmas food drive only lasts about five months. This is exactly when we need a top-up."
The proceeds are shared with the Salvation Army food bank.
Rohloff said MSS gave out more than 50 food parcels a week, and the need continued to grow.
"We are noticing lots of working families needing help, where there is maybe only one parent in work and the other has been made redundant," she said.
The numbers of beneficiaries struggling to feed their families had also increased as some faced 13 week stand-downs for failing to meet job seeker requirements.
They still received Working for Families assistance, which usually went on rent, leaving next to nothing for buying food for children.
Rohloff said the mid-winter restocking of the shelves would also help the food banks prepare for an anticipated increase in the number of families needing help during the school holidays.
The food drive began by encouraging schools to ask students to bring an item of food rather than a gold coin to school mufti days.
A couple of years ago, several businesses added their weight to the collection.
This year the organisation was boosted by the inclusion of Watson's Real Estate property sales consultant Latham Lockwood.
Business donations also improved, with $500 from fellow councillor Leonie Hapeta on behalf of the Hotel Coachman providing the biggest cash boost so far.
Most of the donations to the food drive have been sorted and delivered, but Methodist Social Services will continue to accept food until the end of next week.
Up until then, and at other times of the year, people could make donations at 663 Main St, or phone for items to be collected.
Rohloff said rice and pasta continued to be staple items that were in high demand.
Supplies of fresh food were limited, and donations were appreciated.