Food drive numbers down

18:51, Nov 25 2012
Food drive - Joan Matata
Joan Matata packs boxes at the food drive.

Palmerston North’s annual food drive has organisers scratching their heads after this year’s load was on the light side.

Food items  given to the Salvation Army and Methodist Social Services foodbanks during  the weekend dhreached 40,000, whereas the year before there were more than 50,000 food items.

Some collectors were towing trailers with only one or two plastic bags of food in them, with drivers saying other volunteers had gone home because there were not enough parcels left next to letterboxes.

Middle Districts Lions co-ordindhator for service clubs Warren Rickard said there was a hiccup with distribution, which meant somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 housedhholds did not receive white New World collection bags.

Apart from that, he could not understand where he and the other organisers had dropped the ball.

"We spent about eight months putting it together, and then coming here and having a small food pile... we’ve all put so much work into organising it, then you see it and you can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed.


"From here it’s asking the public ‘what are we doing wrong?’ and taking it to our debrief and figuring it out for next year.’’

Salvation Army community ministries manager Kevin Richards said it was  gut-wrenching  to see the pile so small, especially as the demand for food parcels was rising.

With the cost of living going up, people were finding it hard to fend for themselves, let alone others, he said.

‘‘The less food that is donated, the more difficult it is for us to support those families that are really struggling.

‘‘We rely on the public support to help people in the community that just can’t feed themselves.’’

Both church organisations gave out food parcels to help the city’s most needy, including households with low incomes, and those facing unexpected emergencies or more deep-seated problems.

Despite the small haul, Mr Richards was thankful that more than 200 volunteers from service clubs, churches, police and fire service showed to up to help collect, deliver and sort the donations.

The Manawatu Standard caught up with a few volunteers who turn up year after year to help.

Joan Matata and Cheryl Wham have been sorting the sauces from the cans and cereals from the biscuits for more than three years.

The two friends said they had honed their sorting system to a fine art and were able to power through the food parcels in no time.

They got involved through their church, the Mosaic Community Church, and said it was an easy way to give back to the community.

‘‘I stay involved because I just enjoy helping out and it’s nice to see how generous people can be,’’ Mrs Matata said.

The Salvation Army and Methodist Social Services share donations.

Manawatu Standard