Food drive promotion blamed for soft response

Volunteers sort out the goods from the food drive.
Volunteers sort out the goods from the food drive.

Palmerston North residents have some handy hints they think will fix the Food Drive’s light load over the weekend, including taking promotions online.

The Salvation Army and Methodist Social Services annual Food Drive last Saturday saw 40,000 food items donated; the year before there were more than 50,000.

Organisers have said they’re not sure where they dropped the ball, but admitted there was a hiccup with the bag distribution with somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 households going without white New World collection bags.

Lorna Johnson, who lives in Mere Mere Ave near the hospital, didn’t receive a bag in her letterbox, but put out another plastic bag filled with donated food items instead.

After living in Palmerston North for nine years, she knew the details of the Food Drive by heart, she said.

‘‘If you’ve lived in the town for a while you know what weekend it is, you know what the sirens mean and the plastic bags just act as a reminder.’’

The Food Drive could have benefited from more promotion, but other constraints played a part, Mrs Johnson said.

‘‘I wouldn’t have thought the reduction in collections is due to people not getting the bag or not hearing about it.

‘‘People are in a difficult financial situation, a lot of people have lost their jobs, things are really tight and people just don’t have the capacity to donate.’’

Patsy Vercoe, who lives in Mudgway Place in Riverdale, received her bag the week of the Food Drive and said her collection went without a hitch.

‘‘I got my bag and put stuff out and it was collected, so I was happy with it; it was just a shame other people missed out.’’

Mrs Vercoe said numbers may be down because of limited promotion and suggested organisers look to social media to reach a wider audience.

‘‘Maybe it’s time to hit Facebook and get it out there a bit more.’’

Middle Districts Lions co-ordinator for service clubs Warren Rickard said organisers had taken the same approach to promotion as previous years, which included running the event at the same time of year, as well as four weeks of radio advertising and a banner in The Square.

‘‘’We crossed all the boxes to what we’ve done in previous years, but I just can’t put my finger on what went wrong.

‘‘It’s just a reflection of the times, because things are tight for people at the moment and the extra money to help is just not there.’’

Social media promotions had never been explored, because extra advertising had never been required before, Mr Rickard said, but it wasn’t an avenue they were crossing out for future Food Drives.

The organising committee’s debrief will take place next month, and issues around bag distribution will be discussed then.

If people still want to donate, they can drop items at Methodist Social Services on Main St, the Salvation Army on Church St, or use the supermarket drop-off boxes.

Manawatu Standard