$500,000 food aid still flows

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2011
Steve Hira and Shelley McMurtrie
STACY SQUIRES/The Press
HELPING HAND: Shelley McMurtrie, of 50 Degrees South Trust, donates food left over from her sub-Antarctic expedition to Steve Hira of Aranui Food Distribution Centre, for those in need.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Some earthquake-hit residents are still relying on donated food to fill their cupboards.

Steve Hira, of the Aranui Food Distribution Centre, said that since last month's quake the centre had distributed about $500,000 worth of food.

At its peak about a week after the quake, 3000 people were turning up for food every day, and while demand had subsided, there were still hundreds relying on the service.

"If I sent a couple of texts, this would be gone," he said, pointing to a shipping container full of food, toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

The centre has eased back on its food distribution, asking tougher questions and targeting those in need rather than providing a free-for-all.

Donations continue to stream in.

Yesterday, the 50 Degrees South Trust turned up with $2000 worth of food that had already been halfway to Antarctica and back.

Trust chairwoman Shelley McMurtrie had just returned from an 11-week research trip to sub-Antarctic Campbell Island when the quake struck.

"We had this left over. We were going to use it for fundraising or hold on to it to supply a future trip, but this is where the need is."

In less than an hour, two more vans stopped at the centre to donate food, including one carrying 1200 frozen pies.

Hira said the biggest demand was for canned food, followed by nappies and toilet paper.

Salvation Army Major Robbie Ross said that until this week about 800 food parcels were being distributed a day to quake-hit residents, mostly in eastern Christchurch. This has since dropped to about 400 parcels a day, which was still five times more than the normal demand.

The need for food parcels was likely to remain high for months as people ran out of emergency support or found they no longer had jobs, he said. Many supermarkets remained closed in the eastern suburbs, making door-to-door deliveries essential.

50 DEGREES

The 50 South Trust was established for further research and education of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands and to support the preservation and management of the World Heritage ecosystems.

The trust's first key project was a nine-week expedition to Campbell Island in December 2010.

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