Thousands in need receive food parcels
Thousands of Christmas food parcels are being delivered to needy Christchurch families, with demand for assistance going "right over the top", aid agencies say.
Families for Families co- founder Nikki Dew said the charity, which was formed in October, put together 1300 food parcels this week to be delivered before Christmas Day.
"It's just a really simple thing. Everyone should be able to have something to eat this Christmas," she said.
The food parcels contained about $50 worth of food, including potatoes, onions, frozen mixed vegetables, bread, sausages and two chickens.
Dew said the charity would look at distributing more food parcels next month if it had enough money left.
"In January it's just as bad [for families]. It was bad before the earthquake; now it's horrific," she said.
The food parcels are being distributed by the Salvation Army, and Major Mike Allwright said he expected all 1300 parcels would be snapped up over the Christmas period, with about half gone already.
The demand was "a fraction less" than it was during the lead-up to Christmas last year, but the overall need for assistance in Christchurch was increasing.
"There's still a big need out there, but I think the need is changing. We're not in normal times. There are still a lot of families struggling just to make ends meet," he said.
"Food parcels is just a small part of it."
St Vincent de Paul's president for Christchurch and the West Coast, Russell Williamson, said demand for food parcels had "gone right over the top. We would take here normally about 100 a week. It's gone up to 250."
Demand for help from the Christchurch City Mission has been growing over the past few years.
City Missioner Michael Gorman said the food bank had seen 480 clients for food in the past six days.
He had noticed an increase in the number of people seeking help who had never been to a food bank before, including middle-income clients and those who had been made redundant.
Many people were struggling with housing issues. Some were living in tents or cars, and many were in debt.
Kerry Bensemann, chief executive of the 0800 Hungry food bank, said he had noticed more large families seeking food parcels this year, with many family members forced to move in together because of the earthquakes.