Cupboards full after collection
Bumper Christmas collection for foodbankISOBEL EWING
New Plymouth's foodbank bosses are praising the city's generosity after a bumper Christmas collection night this week.
During five hours on Monday night, 130 volunteers collected 270 boxes of food.
At St Joseph's parish hall, which acted as a depot for the trucks on Monday night, the floor was carpeted with boxes filled with everything from spaghetti and tinned tomatoes to chocolate, noodles, crackers and even four pairs of sunglasses.
The food was sorted into alphabetical order by senior student volunteers from Sacred Heart Girls' College and Francis Douglas Memorial College and put into storage at the foodbank.
Sixteen trucks, with four or five volunteers in each, and 11 police cars acting as lead cars joined in the event.
New Plymouth foodbank acting manager Mike Merrick said the fair weather worked in their favour.
"We had rain last year, which puts a dampener on it, but last night was a beautiful evening. We're really pleased with the response."
He said the foodbank had considered cancelling the drive in past, but got a negative response from the community.
"It's a bit of a carnival atmosphere. They get on the truck and away they go.
"It's a community event, so we're happy to keep it going."
He said the food would probably supply the foodbank with 50 per cent of its food needs for the year.
Co-ordinator of the foodbank drive, Bob Shaw, said they had been doing the drive for 25 years and the generosity never waned.
The most commonly received goods were tinned tomatoes and fruit, but the items they most needed were spreads such as jam and peanut butter, for school lunches, Mr Merrick said.
Meat was another sought-after item that was always welcomed.
An item that had proved not so popular was a can of duck fat, which had been sitting in the foodbank since last year's collection.
If they had surplus, they shared it with other community organisations, he said.
"Women's refuge, any organisation that would benefit from a food supply.
"We don't hog it."
The foodbank does two types of work - work with people who came in wanting a parcel and were assessed for suitability, and outreach work.
"A number of people won't come because of pride or lack of transport - these are often elderly," Mr Merrick said.
He said they placed priority on families, and particularly around Christmas time made an effort to put more food in the parcels.
Inglewood foodbank manager Frances Pawson said Inglewood had a very good level of donation, with a variety of things given.
"We had two banana boxes full of things for Christmas, which we have never had before."
The foodbank drive is on the first Monday of December.
YOU CAN HELP
It's not too late to donate. Contact the New Plymouth foodbank on (06) 758 2757 and they will make arrangements to have your food picked up.
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