‘Feed a Family’ is an appeal run by the staff of Vinnies Kingsland and supported by the Vinnies young adults. The purpose of this appeal is to support families who are struggling to put food on the table.
The people who come to us seeking support, vary from your city rough sleeper, through to parents and grandparents both with jobs who simply cannot put food on the table due to extra costs. Other people are referred through social service providers, Work and Income, mental health services, refuges, prison and so forth.
‘Feed a Family’ is therefore more than simply an appeal, it is an opportunity to connect with a family, and truly make a difference.
Homelessness remains one of the most significant impacts of the Auckland housing crisis. This entails those sleeping on the streets and in cars but can also be seen in other ways. Homelessness can also be experienced by those couch surfing or residing in emergency housing centres. James Liston Hostel is a a house and haven for those looking to transition out of homelessness. The hostel provides warm, secure rooms, two meals a day, laundry services, and access to social services and drug and alcohol counselling. Tenants can stay for up to 12 weeks and the staff work with residents to find a secure space for housing.
A contingent of volunteers from the Society of St Vincent de Paul recently hosted a christmas dinner for those residing at James Liston Hostel. The intention was to provide a hearty meal for those who go without, but more than anything an opportunity to connect and share stories. The volunteers enjoyed creating a space to connect and learn more about the lived realities of homelessness. It was sobering to hear stories of trauma and grief, but also stories of hope for what lies ahead for the residents. The volunteers left the service initiative feeling a sense of fullness, as this was a concrete experience of where donations of the feed a family appeal go towards. It goes towards helping individuals such as those at James Liston Hostel to be fed and recognise the gift of coming together for Christmas.
A Season of Giving: Volunteers at Vinnies Centre
At present the Newton foodbank is currently supporting over 5000 people. This consists of babies, children, youth, parents and grandparents. This Christmas The Society of St Vincent de Paul are putting out more foodboxes than ever. Within the past 10 days alone, more than 250 foodparcels have been distributed. These are boxes of groceries that include dry goods, fresh vegetables, 5 kgs of meat and gifts for the whole family. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are extremely grateful for the donations that have been coming through, as well as the youth volunteers who have turned up in groups to put the boxes together. More supplies were brought in and a further 150 foodparcels were able to be made. This has ensured that families are well fed and catered to this Christmas season.
Parishes Gather to Support Families in Need
At the beginning of the Christmas Season, the Society of St Vincent de Paul are finding that more and more working families are seeking support in budgeting and food support. By the time that they come to our food bank, they’re often broken and hurt. They have tried everything and there is a deep sense of shame as they have had to explain their struggles countless times to others. There have been many stories shared about parents keeping their kids at home because they do not want others to know they have nothing to put in their children’s lunch boxes. In response to this, an appeal has been made within parishes; seeking the support of the community to care for those who worry about where their next meal might come from. It is hoped that the full proceeds of this appeal will go towards feeding families right throughout the Christmas season. The Society of St Vincent de Paul give thanks for Good Shepherd parish in balmoral and St Michael’s Parish in Remuera for their generosity this week.
Each Christmas season, the Society of St Vincent de Paul across Auckland serve over countless families who are in desperate need. Each family recognise the struggle that comes from times of crisis, and so the Society seeks to provide immediate alleviation through food assistance. Through the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal, the journey of service has been deepened by providing greater sources of nutritional food. It has also allowed for service providers to more clearly identify other needs that are not being met. This brings forth a more informed and familial sense of assistance for families.
The Christmas ‘Feed a Family’ appeal is now active at St Patrick’s Cathedral parish, who have recently pledged their support so that families can experience the coming season with joy. The donations of this appeal will therefore ensure that families can enjoy festivities without worrying where their next meal might come from.
Learning Service Through Experience
As part of their annual social outreach day, the students of Baradene College spend the day visiting different organisations who are dedicated to working to improve the lives of others. Baradene students chose to visit the new centre today to learn more about the food bank which aids families in need, as well as how the youth programme supports local schools in their service projects. The preparation for the Christmas appeal has led to a surge of activity at the new Gundry St Vinnies Centre in Auckland. Therefore it was with the utmost gratitude that the students aided in the foodbank, packing foodboxes and also packing treat bags for children attending a Vinnies community event over the coming weekend.
The Christmas Appeal Begins!
Recently the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Auckland launched the annual Christmas ‘Feed a Family’ Appeal for those in need. This appeal is particularly for the families that we have journeyed alongside throughout the year. The team have already begun sorting and getting to work on the database of names which have been compiled.
Last year, the Vinnies centre was inundated with requests for food by families and individuals, from those living alone and/or in emergency housing facilities. We are hopeful that through the generous donations of the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal we will be better equipped to support those who seek our assistance. We give thanks for the generous donors and volunteers who are making this Christmas appeal happen.
The Food bank and youth offices have now moved to a new premises on 12 Newton Street, Auckland. The foodbank is up and running and will operate between 10am – 3pm from Monday to Friday.
On the 16th of September, the team bid farewell to the Kingsland building, a home for the Auckland Central Vinnies since 1991. The foodbank at the time supported 200 people, but over the years this has grown exponentially. Prior to the closure of the building earlier this month, the foodbank was supporting over 3,500 people. The larger premises offers more space which is suited for the storage and provision of bulk foodparcels. It also houses the youth team as well as a space for formation and gatherings. The new space now contains a dedicated reception and space for families and individuals who seek assistance.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul give thanks for this vision and how this journey has come to fruition. Special thanks is given to our donors: the East Auckland St Vincent de Paul and leaders; the Auckland governance board who have spent years working on the relocation plans; the volunteers who made a significant contribution in moving the centre; the Onehunga shop manager and driver who offered truck and transport services, and last but not least Mike Phillipe who sourced all the warehouse racking for the building. This new space means a new chapter in the unfolding of the St Vincent de Paul operations within Auckland. The Society gives thanks for all those who continue to support the movement.
Cans for Christmas Donate over 22,000 Cans to the Society of St Vincent de Paul
Moved by a call to bring the community together, Cans for Christmas established itself in 2015. It is a project that mobilises Catholic Schools around New Zealand to donate cans of food to their local St Vincent de Paul foodbank. The response was tremendous. More than 22,000 cans were collected within the space of a few weeks.
A number of the Vinnies Youth Team were onsite to help with sorting and packing the cans, all of which will be destined for families in need within their respective communities over the Christmas period. “Its a fantastic feeling to see how much all the schools donate… and what the people give”, says Billy Hadnett, team leader of Cans for Christmas. As a teacher, Billy knows all too well the reality of those who come to school hungry.
This can collection comes at a timely moment as the winter season proved demanding with relation to families seeking support from the foodbank. The ‘Feed a Family’ Appeal relies on the generosity and initiative of projects such as Cans for Christmas as this allows for stronger support networks to be established.
Nurturing Realities: Nutritional and Accessible Food
It is estimated that 1 in 100 people within New Zealand are homeless. Based on the street count, it’s estimated there were approximately 800 people unsheltered across Auckland on September 17, 2018. Approximately 48 percent of these people are wahine (women) who have no choice but to sleep it rough or live in precarious, transitional housing. There are countless stories of vulnerability, of suffering from harassment, violence and abuse. There is a pervading sense of anxiety for those who have no place to call home. Women often have to either keep to themselves, band together or have a partner to ensure their safety.
In response to the harsh realities of homelessness within Auckland, Vinnies have been meeting with Auckland Citymission leaders and members of Te Miringa Trust to roll out a new initiative to care for the wahine who need a safe space to relax, have dinner and just to be with other women.
As part of the new initiative, female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer each Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the hosting of an evening dinner.
The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and array of ingredients. A team of 6 Vinnies work diligently to prepare a hot scrumptious meal of “Fusion food”, designed to be nutritionous and filling.
Through a simple dinner, the these women are invited to form close connections with one another, to share experiences of women who have been there, done that; who know that connection building isn’t simply one and done. But rather, about nurturing healthy relationships and banding together as a family.
A Birthday Wish Come True
Recently, John Metherall – CEO of Catholic Social Services – came to visit the local Vinnies foodbank. Catholic Social Services is the social outreach agency of the Diocese of Auckland. They are committed to the positive wellbeing of those within the community. Alongside John was Helen Porter who gifted a donation of money that was fundraised on her birthday. The proceeds of this donation from Helen and all those who contribute to the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal will go towards ensuring meals are provided for families in need.
Poor nutrition contributes to significant mental health impacts, particularly for children in the early years of their development. While there has been a commendable government commitment to improving mental health services and its access across the country, poverty through food insecurity has notable implications. Those who through no fault of their own rely on cheap ‘filler’ foods often find that their food lacks nutrients, are high in fat and in salt. This is significant as it often results in a higher risk of overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. Many families experience the reality of this when they are unable to make ends meet and provide sufficient food for meals. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are no stranger to the people who come through seeking support at the local foodbank. There have been stories of struggle, anxiety and hope for the unknown – particularly at where their next meal would come from. In the past year, the Kingsland foodbank assisted over 3000 people with food support. Each and every individual who waits in queue are part of a wider family. There are often children brought to the forefront. Sometimes they are waiting at home with a significant other, but often they are in the queue with their caregiver.
August saw the launching of the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal within several other parishes within Auckland. Many parishioners have since heeded the call to support local families. The Society of St Vincent de Paul would like to thank Fr Iosefo Timo and the parishioners of St Joseph’s Parish Grey Lynn, The Good Shepherd Parish Balmoral as well as St John Vianney Parish in Hillsborough. The youth of St John Vianney parish kindly led a bake sale fundraiser to help with the appeal, providing a space of hospitality and awareness for wider needs within the community. The funding from this appeal continues to be used in support of local families affected by food insecurity.
Students from St Mary’s College also contributed to the cause through joining the family feeding programme. With the assistance of staff and facilities at Pompalier Centre in Ponsonby, these young women were able to whip up a meal from scratch. Other colleges throughout Auckland continue to gather in their respective communities after school to do the same.
This winter, thousands of Auckland families have few options but to feed themselves on less than $7 a meal. The reality of paying rent, debts, power, transport and medical costs often mean there is little left to spend on food. Furthermore, this also means that a families’ access to enough good quality, nutritious food is severely restricted. In an effort to make an impact on these realities, the ‘Feed a Family’ Appeal is being launched within numerous local parishes around the Auckland central business district. This includes parishes such as St Patrick’s Cathedral and St John the Baptist Church. Through this appeal, it is hoped that there grows a greater awareness around food insecurity within New Zealand, namely Auckland. The funds collected will be destined for families in need so that they do not need to worry about where their next meal comes from.
From Funding to Food: A Journey of Accompaniment
A recent study from the Ministry of Health finds that almost one in five children live in a severely to moderately food-insecure household. As wider statistics about the situation of families within low socio-economic areas suggest, this means that more and more of Aotearoa’s families are struggling to put enough food on the table. Inadequate incomes predominantly cause people to select and consume low-cost foods, which tend to be energy dense and poor in nutrition. It should also be noted that the ability to acquire personally acceptable foods which meet cultural needs in a socially acceptable way becomes problematic in the wake of wider costs such as health, education and so on.
Through the generous donations of individuals and collectives towards to the ‘Feed A Family’ Appeal, this has allowed for a greater support of those living in food-insecure situations. Many students connected to the Society of St Vincent de Paul have been pivotal in rolling out feeding programmes at the local Foodbank. These programmes consist of regular bulk meal preparation after school, using an array of ingredients including meat and vegetables. Students see firsthand where the donations go, and play a significant part in cooking the meals. It also provides an invaluable time for team building and putting into practice the skills they learn within schools. The meals are then packaged and later distributed to families in need within the community. An important aspect of these feeding programmes are that they are made from scratch. The Society recognises the dignity of families and the importance of providing quality meals that meet nutrition needs.
The donations towards ‘Feed a Family’ are therefore important as they allow for the provision of a consistently wholesome and healthy diet. While these meals provide short-term, immediate relief to people; the Society of St Vincent de Paul continue to walk alongside these families in care and support. To address food poverty in Auckland, there continues to be awareness programmes within schools as well as through the launching of the appeal within parishes. What remains clear throughout is that the redistribution of food and funds are no substitute for the structural changes that come from understanding the needs of families within Aotearoa. Herein lies the invitation to learn from and accompany those who go without.