Food bank well stocked for Christmas

Helping families during the Christmas period

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012
	 Mike Merrick
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ

PILES OF PUDDING: New Plymouth acting food bank manager Mike Merrick with some of the Christmas supplies donated by the community.

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The added pressures that come with Christmas are a major factor in families' struggle to put food on the table.

New Plymouth food bank acting manager Mike Merrick said food was one of the items skimped on if there was a need to choose between it and presents. "Another big issue is if someone's hosting the whole family. There's a big pressure there and often that will clean them out."

He said New Plymouth had a large amount of stock in preparation for Christmas since the annual food drive, but had not had to give much away yet.

"We've had extra volunteers come on in anticipation but there hasn't been a dramatic increase in numbers.

"We still have today through until Monday though when we're expecting people to come in."

The pace was not the same in Stratford, where demand for weekly parcels has doubled in the last two weeks.

Co-ordinator Elva Thomas said its collections were always high during school holiday periods when parents wanted to spoil their children with activities or gifts.

"They want to do nice things and they forget about the rent being due next week and then the electricity bill."

A steady stream had gone to Waitara's food bank. However co-ordinator Helen Johnson had noticed the popularity of Chrisco hampers rise.

The hamper scheme was a catch-22, she said, because while people saved for a decent Christmas, it often meant their children had to go without during the year.

Mr Merrick expected a large number of people to visit food bank after Christmas.

"People naturally consume more and indulge themselves and then discover the cupboards are not quite as full as they thought they were.

"Sometimes people just need something to tide them over for a couple of days and walking out with a decent parcel is a huge relief for them."

Mr Merrick encouraged people in need to call in to the food bank for their situation to be assessed.

Community donations had been huge of late, and he said Christmas parcels would include treats such as Christmas puddings, brandy snaps and chocolates, as well as the standard items.

The New Plymouth organisation had also benefited from two Taranaki fishing competitions that had donated their hauls. "For Christmas we might not be able to give out a chicken or a turkey, but we can give out some fish."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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