Feed a Family, Vinnies News Weekly

August Highlights

Coming Together to Serve

Laughter and music fills the air as the familiar sound of student volunteers go about their tasks for the afternoon. There is a renewed sense of rhythm in the foodbank which accompanied the beginning of a new school term; a season of connection and learning that many have grown to appreciate since the first lockdown in Aotearoa. In being mindful of the many families whom they seek to assist, the volunteers also recognised their longing for a relational connection which devices and social media could only provide so much of.

Auckland Catholic Young Adults Community

This spirit of connection has manifested itself in countless foodparcels being prepared each day – delivered by staff and wider volunteer groups across the city. Students from primary schools have mobilised their communities to provide an array of non-perishable foods for donations. Those who are in high school have also made use of their hospitality suites to prepare bulk meals and lending an extra hand in making foodparcels onsite. A number of university students, young adults and families have also proved invaluable in assessing need distributing these parcels to families in need.

Six days a week, the foodbank has been a powerhouse of activity with over 500 foodparcels made each day. At beginning of the month, the SVdP foodbank was fortunate to have the support of the Catholic Young Adults Collective and the Auckland Catholic Tertiary crew in making these parcels. Each time these young men and women attended was an opportunity to build upon the learnings of prior weeks, as well the significant insights they gained throughout the lockdown. The existing learnings proved invaluable to establishing a context upon which new relationships were formed.

The implications of COVID-19 upon the youth team engaging with students in schools has been significant. In the short-term, the youth team have had to overhaul the realities of day-to-day teaching, leading in-depth reflections and activities to learn about those whom the students will assist. Access to online platforms such as facebook and phones have proven important in this regard to ensure students feel a sense of connection and formation. Notably, there have also been much wider, ongoing impacts. The extended closure of schools and rise in need for food parcels across the city has brought forth a new wave of understanding about those who struggle to put food on the table. As schools returned to in-person teaching at the beginning of the month, the youth team had an opportunity to align these learnings to a more informed approach in how the in-school curriculum is led. It has initiated a space to ask the bigger questions about the community; namely, what does support look and feel like amidst a reality of food insecurity? The youth team were able to engage in some of these discussions in meaningful ways a number of times before the second lockdown announcement.

For many who volunteer at the foodbank, the insights which are gained find resonance – often when it is least expected. Sometimes it’s an immediate impact, sometimes it arises from a small comment or action during the day of service. Often it resonates at the crossroads where others are also seeking the answers to the lessons before them. Upon the threshold where the need is both realised and acted upon; many have learnt the gift of community, and what it truly means to support one another.

Prior to the second lockdown, the Vinnies young adults were able to host a number of meals for wahine at Auckland City Mission. These were sorely missed during the first lockdown, and many who attended these nights enjoyed the opportunities for conversation, music, dancing and being present to one another. A key learning that this service has brought about is that accompaniement bridges the distance between people, no matter their walk of life. It is walking, gently, intentionally and compassionately with one another.

Navigating Lockdown Together

As part of this month in review, Auckland Vinnies takes you through a deeper insight into the day-to-day movements of their response to the calls of those in need, particularly in the wake of Covid-19.

Day One

If pictures could speak a thousand words, then it would not be enough to contain the immensity of care and compassion that unfolded throughout the month of August. Upon the announcement of a second lockdown, there was a familiar sense of uncertainty, grief and hope as the team gathered to prepare for the unfolding reality as they did earlier in the year. Mindful of the many lessons from the previous months, staff and volunteers alike prayed and planned for what would be an insightful few weeks ahead. As the phones began to ring and the families seek support; the team knew that those few moments together would steer them in good stead.

Team gathers in preparation for the second lockdown

Day Two

A level 3 lockdown meant that the Vinnies foodbank was closed to the public. In a space that values the face-to-face relationality of interactions, this proved a difficult reality to navigate initially. As planned in the first lockdown, all referrals were soon taken up through phone and email, with all pick-ups collected by social workers who had pre-booked. A faithful team of workers were at the phones and computers throughout the day to receive requests for foodparcels, and more importantly, connect with the families that were in need. For the remainder of foodparcels, this invevitably meant that a slick delivery process was needed. At the crack of dawn, the team delivered close to 200 foodparcels and stopped to collect an array of PPE for oncoming essential workers and volunteers. Other key members of the team spent most of the morning making food deliveries to Mt Wellington and Auckland City Mission. Between organising the foodbank database, delivering bulk parcels and connecting with various members of the community, the team slowly found a sense of rhythm.

Day Three

The team rose again bright and early to process and push out a further 400 foodboxes from the SVdP foodbank. There orders arose from a number of affiliated social services as well as personal referrals. A core team of volunteers were on hand to receive truckloads of donated bulk supplies from Pandoro Panneteria. The foodbank was abuzz with activity; the forkhoist moving in constant motion to prepare outgoing pallets of goods. There was a constant ebbing and flowing of resources coming in from various suppliers which were then distrbuted to families almost as fast as it arrived. The foodbank proved significant in this regard to ensure a seamless packing process for these varied goods. The day concluded with the packing and delivering of another 150 parcels which were destined for West Auckland.

Day Four

Beyond the foodbank, a number of core volunteers ensure that food parcels are ready in time and in spec for families in need. Young men and women from CYAC and Gather have been pivotal in picking up bulk dry good supplies, packing these in their bubble with appropriate PPE before dropping these off to the Vinnies foodbank. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul were also grateful to receive constant top-up donations from suppliers such as Good Farms, Kahui Te Kaha, KiwiHarvest and Scalini throughout the day to ensure families were getting a variety of quality, nutritous meals.

Day Six

With a single day to reorganise and recuperate, the first day of the week proved both challenging and fulfilling. The foodbank was in a constant whirlwind of action: the phones on gridlock and the notifications that an email had arrived were constant reminders that a family somewhere in the community was needing a helping hand. The team worked long and hard throughout the day to ensure families were getting the support they needed. The faithful group packed foodparcels all day long and into the night until midnight to ensure that there was enough prepared for the anticipated Tuesday rush.

Day Eight

The journey proved impossible, if not for the assistance of countless families who took turns in their ‘bubbles’ to prepare and distribute foodparcels throughout the community. This provided a much needed breather for the team who worked the night prior. The calls and emails continued to come through, with many voicing their concerns for where their next meal might come from.

Day Nine

The start of a new day saw a number of enthusiastic volunteers come through to support the preparation of food parcels. There were many moments of laughter and joy as the team got to work on filling each pallet with food. From the rising of the sun until the night, the foodbank moved like clockwork: each parcel put together with the health of the families at the forefront of each packers mind. A volunteer remarked that it was no longer the quantity of foodparcels that mattered, but the quality of what was going into it and what families truly needed at the time.

Day Ten

The bonds formed over the last week alone were such that it could only be described as meaningful, heartfelt and gospel-called. The team at the foodbank moved in sync with one another, moving from each task to the next with efficiency. From receving deliveries, to packing foodparcels, distributing, recycling unused items and preparing the space to do it all over again several times throughout the day.

Day Eleven

The Mother of Divine Mercy Collective have supported the Society of St Vincent de Paul throughout the lockdown to deliver hundreds of fooparcels to families. The Mother of Divine Mercy operate a Women’s Refuge and are a close longtime supporter and foodbank satellite of Vinnies. They had two of their family bubbles turn up to safely process more boxes. On this day, they decided to give the team a hand at putting these food parcels together. In the week that had past, the Vinnies collective were hard pressed to keep up with demand, including pre-ordered requests for food support. Through their hardwork they were able to help the foodbank process over 1,000 boxes. With this added layer of support, the team were now in a stronger position to reconnect with families face to face as well as supporting the Vinnies youth school programme to ease into sourcing and preparing food for the following week.

Day Thirteen

Thanks to the strong presence and support of the Mother of Divine Mercy Collective during the day prior, the day proved quiet as the team dedicated more time and energy to other important tasks. Two volunteers dropped in to carefully pack a few fresh produce boxes destined for families later that day. The sense of peace was a welcome reality in the wake of lockdown journey so far.

Day Fourteen

The lockdown has provided an opportunity for many core volunteers to contribute in meaningful ways towards those who need assistance. A number of these volunteers have been part of the schools programme growing up, journeying alonside people from varying walks of life. Between picking up truckloads of supplies, hoisting and packing bulk food; these young men and women have come to a greater understanding of how their contributions make a difference. Many have stressed how rewarding it is to meet new people and put what they have learnt in life into practice. One volunteer remarked on the experience of getting a call about thirteen families from a local church community who had gone into isolation awaiting their COVID19 test results. They needed food support urgently. Without delay they assembled a drive out with foodparcels from SVdP to provide assistance to these families. That same day on the other side of the city, Fr Martin assembled a few parishioners of St Joachim’s Parish to collect and redistribute bulk produce for people across the community.

Day Fifteen

While the team were out in force delivering or restributiong resources to those in need, the foodbank was getting a much needed upgrade. With the support of generous donors, a new walk-in freezer was able to be installed onsite. This important addition to the facility will prove invaluable to maintaining fresh produce before it is redistributed to families. The upgrade has long been awaited in the wake of rising demand for food parcels, and in particular, items which are fresh and nutritious.

Day Sixteen

Before the day drew to a close, a poignant reminder of why Vinnies do the things they do came to the forefront by way of a gift. A family member who was supported shares:

“Here is something I made to hang in your window to catch the sunlight each morning and remind you of the hope we have in one another. My daughters and I don’t have much to give but we really want to say thank you. I make little things I can sell online as I have little work at the moment and my health isn’t too great because of the stress. I want you to know that these foodboxes literally saved us through those weeks. It’s been really hard for my girls because like me, it runs in the family. They are both immuno-compromised as well and the lockdown has been especially tough on them as they see their friends working as essential services. They want to be out there too. They feel powerless and excluded from it all…”

Day Seventeen

On this day, the Brown Pride NZ collective offered their support in packing food boxes and other general tasks across the foodbank. One of the volunteers reflected:

“It was a good reality check. Sometimes i think we take our lives for granted. Delivering to those in need … it was humbling. We think sometimes we’re struggling, our lives are hard, but then we see that and then you realize you’re blessed. So it was good to see that. It was good for me, to just be humble again.”

While the level three lockown comes to an end, the team are mindful that the need for families to put food on the table continues. The past seventeen days provided a tremendous space of insight and growth, and it is through this spirit of learning that the Society of St Vincent de Paul seek to accompany those in need within the community.

Feed a Family

July Highlights

Making Meals Matter

As the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 unfold, we know that the most vulnerable in our communities are most affected. For people suffering illness, frailness or other forms of social isolation in particular, such groups may also experience food insecurity regardless of their financial means, due to an inability to either purchase or prepare adequate food as a result of their condition. This has affected the ability of families to acquire and consume a nutritious diet, including the ability to buy and transport food, home storage, preparation and cooking facilities, knowledge and skills to make appropriate choices; and the time as well as mobility to shop for and prepare food. 

In support thousands of families throughout the last month, we know that this issue is also systemic, and speaks to broader issues such as low wages, precarious working environments as well as the supply of food within a community which influences the food security of individuals and households alike. In either instance, the fact remains that thousands of families across New Zealand are food insecure with extreme hunger—where meals are often missed or inadequate. We have been fortunate to have a number of youth groups, families and individuals come through to the Vinnies foodback to offer support. It has been insightful to witness the relentless source of love and compassion that these men and women have for the welfare of those in need. If not for their enthusiasm and much needed assistance, the Society of St Vincent de Paul would not have been able to meet the high demand for foodparcel assistance throughout July.

Across wider society, the nutritional aspect of food security is often overlooked in favour of simply ensuring people are eating regular meals. The Society of St Vincent de Paul have been fortunate to be affliated with other organisations such as KiwiHarvest who ensure that there is a steady source of fresh fruit and veges for families in need. These go a long way to bolstering family health as the products are good quality food items which compliment the non-perishable food items already present in foodparcels.

Families who do not have access to private and/or public transport can have difficulties getting their grocery shopping home. A number of student groups have been working alongside the Vinnies Youth team to deliver foodparcels to communities. This ensures that families who cannot readily access foodparcels or have specific family needs can be better supported. Students and staff alike remark that these moments are significant in that there is sustained face to face interactions. These moments humanise the reality of food insecurity – bringing to the forefront the importance of relationships and nurturing meaningful connections.

With the return of school programmes across Auckland, a number of student groups have resumed cooking bulk meals for families after school. These cooking programmes are significant in that they improve cooking skills, nutritional knowledge, meal planning, budgeting and shopping habits, whilst also ensuing families have greater access to essential food sources which are healthy and filling.  The students involved have remarked that these platforms provide a sense of community building and wellbeing bolstering due to the social aspect of the project. 

Alongside the secondary school programme, a number of women from the young adults group have resumed hosting meals for wahine that are homeless within the Auckland CBD. During nights that have been both rainy and chilling, a hot meal and opportunity for conversation has brought warmth to many who participate. Many connections were formed prior to the covid-19 lockdown, and so the weekly connect ins over a hot meal have made for some heartfelt moments of laughter and story-telling.

In each of these spaces, the Society of St Vincent de Paul have experienced the inherent strength of whanaungatanga (relationship nurturing) when seeking to support those in need, as well as within the organisation itself. There have been countless moments of speechlessness, challenge, calls to action and peaceful encounters which interweave to inform the community as shown above. July has also provided many opportunities to engage in dialogues about how to best move forward alongside those whom the Auckland Vinnies operations are sharing the journey with. As a new month unfolds, the Society of St Vincent de Paul recognise that relationships will be key to navigating the spaces of unfamiliarity ahead.

Feed a Family

June Highlights

Living into the reality of food insecurity beyond the Covid-19 has proved stressful for countless families in Aotearoa. It has negatively impacted wellbeing in a number of areas including mental and physical health, relationships, workforce opportunities and educational achievement. Over the past few months, the Auckland Vinnies operations have been inundated with requests for food support. This need was already growing exponentially prior to the lockdown as the number of New Zealander’s experiencing food insecurity has increased. 

The effects of Covid-19 has amplified existing challenges – particularly those pertaining availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited the ability to acquire personally acceptable foods that meet cultural needs in a socially acceptable way. In seeking to meet these varying needs, the team have worked tirelessly alongside a dedicated team of volunteers, supply partners, health professionals, budgeters, social workers and administrators. Through many conversations and check-ins, the insights gained have reaffirmed that food insecurity emerges from a complex range of causes including low wages and housing costs.

In the wake of level four on the pandemic scale, the unfolding situation has highlighted the challenges to addressing food security. Over the space of a few days, many regional support networks, local redistribution projects and community hubs became inaccessible. Those without food and the means to provide it found themselves in disarray as the lockdown required families to remain indoors. A number of support providers were ill-equipped to sustain a similar, if not more enhanced degree of care during the lockdown. It was evident that severe food insecurity impacted thousands of families across Auckland alone, with many more requiring ongoing support as we continue to navigate level one. The degree to which these numbers reduce, and more importantly, the degree to which families are supported is unlikely to be influenced without substantial intervention.

As schools, local foodbanks and community spaces reopened in level two, this allowed for regions to reassess needs and redirect resources. A space was created for connections to be nurtured and for stories to be shared. The growing community awareness spurred many into action. Of note were local schools that took the lead in supporting families in need. Principal Michele Mill of St Joseph’s School in Otahuhu and Fr Martin Wu of St Joseph’s Parish were two such people who have been working diligently to ensure those in their care do not go without.

Additionally, students from McAuley High School, St Joseph’s Otahuhu school and Parish volunteers mobilised to bottle and prepare thousands of bottles of handsoap for redistribution to families. During the lockdown, St Peters College donated several pallets of hampers and food that were meant for their Annual Fair which was cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. These were redistributed to families and the elderly who sought assistance from Vinnies. Students from St Peter’s, as well as Auckland Normal Intermediate School Mt Eden also ran a school wide food drive at level one, sourcing several boxes of canned goods to donate to the Vinnies Foodbank. A group of Vinnies from St Cuthbert’s College and Sancta Maria College have faithfully dedicated time after school to help sort and stock donations, ready for the following day. Each of these collectives took the time to reflect upon food insecurity, as well as their call to grow awareness and consider more importantly the relationships they hold with the wider community.

The Auckland operations have been fortunate to have a strong volunteer base who have shown up in the early waking hours of the day to ensure families are fed. The Ignite whānau, various youth groups and affiliated partners bulk pack hundreds of parcels each day to cover demand. The many hands and moments of laughter made for light work as these young men and women bonded through service. A significant number of these individuals worked throughout the lockdown as packers, stackers and drivers for the food parcels. Their hard work did not go unnoticed, and the impact it has had on families across Auckland was felt across the communities in which they served. Throughout the lockdown, numerous families coordinated foodbank satellite services across Auckland. That is, provided localised support to those in need so as to ease the logistical processes of the central hub. These families have been pivotal in creating a sense of whanaungatanga (relationship building) through face to face interactions. Relationships are core to the Vinnies service ethos, as this is what upholds the dignity of those whom they serve through meaningful, sustained connections.

A core team of individuals came together without knowing one another during the lockdown, in the hopes of working the phone lines so that families are heard, and their needs are met. The collective saw a need that was not being met, and thanks to their hardwork the Vinnies team were able to provide a stronger, more informed service to families. In particular, they checked in on isolated elderly whānau who requested regular phone calls. These services were much needed, particularly as a way to navigate restrictions on physical distancing without compromising the relational aspect of service provision.

Core phoneline volunteers

Door to door delivery has also been supported, including those in need within local caravan parks. The team have been fortunate to work alongside dedicated students such as those from Liston College who ensure distribution is streamlined. The Vinnies team have been proactive in organising themselves – from assessing needs, to donations, and packing and distributing food parcels that provide nutritional sustenance. 

There have been many moments of joy, laughter as well as moments that have brought tears and wonder. While the journey ahead is uncertain, the Vinnies team are mindful that there lies an opportunity to deeply reflect and bring about a positive contribution to the lives of those whom they serve. Through collaboration and journeying alongside one another, the Vinnies team therefore seeks to acknowledge and address food insecurity as experienced by people; whilst acknowledging and addressing that food insecurity is a facet of lived experience driven by systems. 

Feed a Family

May Highlights

A Community That Cares

Thousands of families sought support from The Society of St Vincent Paul foodbank in the Auckland region amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. It has meant numerous situations in which families have insufficient food to live, difficulties in acquiring sufficient food, and increases in social marginalization during isolation. The primary driver of food insecurity within Aotearoa continues to be economic insufficiency, as families in low-income brackets are increasingly unable to afford nutritional sources of food. 

Throughout the Auckland region there were over 60 essential service volunteer drivers who signed up to support the Vinnies Auckland COVID-19 Response Foodbank Operation. These young men and women would operate from ‘satellite foodbanks’ to provide direct, local support to their communities. During the pandemic, the Vinnies team connected with families who, through no fault of their own, were without work and pay; or restricted from seeking support from extended family, friends or neighbours. Over time, it was found that this exhausted social support networks; often leaving families even more isolated during lockdown. A dedicated team of volunteers took up the responsibility of manaakitanga (support) through regular phone call check-ins to ensure families felt safe and held during these trying times. 

It was evident through the stories of those who sought assistance that there were manifestations of hardship, tension and distress. In being present to these important expressions of vulnerability, it is telling that these issues are not independent of one another. To do so would obscure broader structural issues such as low wages, insecure work, inadequate and expensive housing as well as welfare retrenchment. The Society is deeply grateful for the ongoing support of organisations such as the Ministry For Primary Industries, Kiwi Harvest as well as generous families who have been able to donate bulk supplies of food to top up much needed foodparcels for families in need. Fresh produce in particular became a significant addition to families who could not access supermarkets or nearby shops during the lockdown period.

Food insecurity, therefore, is not an isolated phenomenon, but is very much intertwined with a wider range of insecurities and pressures on families. The combined efforts of volunteers and staff have proved invaluable in this instance to bolster the relational and charitable aid available to families. It has also allowed families to access necessary support networks so as to access sustainable sources of food.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul acknowledges the many men and women who dedicated their time throughout the lockdown to procure, pack and deliver foodboxes; coordinate foodbank satellites, donate, pray, manage administration and fundraising receipts as well as make the phone calls and emails to families needing check ins. Prior to the lockdown, the Auckland Operations were providing 120 food boxes a week. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have averaging 120 per day and to date have distributed well over 5,000 food boxes to families. The need is growing every day. While the pandemic has been a challenge in ways that have often been unseen, it has been deeply moving to observe a community that has come together to support one another.

Feed a Family

April Highlights

Responding to Families in Need

We would like to share with you how Vinnies Youth Auckland have mobilised and sought to support families affected by COVID-19 with food boxes and other essential needs. Prior to the pandemic, we were providing 120 food boxes a week. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have averaging 120 per day and to date have distributed well over 5,000 food boxes to families. The need is growing every day.

Hundreds of families across Auckland continue to bear the burdened reality of food insecurity in light of Covid-19. For many, this reality was being experienced long before the pandemic was realised in Aotearoa. Self-isolation has only added to its effects. The lockdown and disruptions in work, family relations and community support have shown the fragility of people’s access to essential food and services. The Society of St Vincent de Paul continue to see the effects of lost income related to accessing food, with many families informing us that they are unable to afford sufficient food due to limited financial resources.

Families are writing and ringing in through the night and early hours of the morning. The foodboxes provided are valued at $120 each and are personally delivered to their front doors by the strong team of about 30 Vinnies volunteer drivers. we are fortunate to have the assistance of Kiwharvest and Auckland Citymission food donations that allow us to supplement the foodboxes with extra food to cut costs and allow the re-allocation of money to the purchase of more bulk food supplies in.

We are grateful for the Auckland Catholic Diocese for their monetary support and also to MSD for supplementing some our Foodbank costs. To date VINNIES auckland have delivered food to over 1,500 families struggling as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown. We know that in weeks to come this number will only increase as people live into unemployment, social isolation, and the temporary closing of many social services support networks. There has also been an increase in cases of domestic violence as well an increase of stress, anxiety and the break down of wellbeing including mental health.

This has necessitated a change in the way families are supported at this time. Not only do families need food at this time, they also need reassurance and journeying alongside. Many volunteers from various professional backgrounds have stepped up to lend a hand. From budgeters, social workers, dedicated phone operators; to packers, distributors and food bank operators, these young men and women are able to support hundreds of families across Auckland each day. Many have given their time and energy into ensuring families do not go without during the pandemic – the facility operating up to twelve hours a day, six days a week. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are thankful for these gifted, professional and enthusiastic team members.

A Vinnies foodbank essential worker reflects:

“It was  getting dark as more people lined the road some pushing up to the truck with outstretched hands asking for a box of food….”Today we went into a large caravan park with a convoy of two Vinnies foodtrucks and a car to deliver large foodboxes of fresh produce, meat, milk, cereal, yoghurt etc to over 240 flat units and caravans where families and individuals lived.We were told there was a huge need in that place and many were not able to access food support as many had become accustomed to putting up with not having much. Many didn’t have the resilience or resource to seek support. Many were marginalized and socially excluded. Not having transport or wifi or credit or ability to read and write, or the confidence to ring an 0800 helpline became a huge obstacle. Our vehicles moved slowly on two different routes and stopped intermittently as team members on the back  worked hard to unload and distribute parcels to each unit with the park management. It was getting dark as more people lined the road some pushing up to the truck with outstretched hands asking for a box. We had to ask many a time that they please move back.”

“It was heart breaking to see many of these people were elderly and some seemed quite physically unwell. We weren’t allowed to hand the boxes over for safety reasons but they were determined for fear of missing out.Some tried to lift the heavy 12kg+ boxes out of our arms to be helpful. Other succeeded others didn’t.  I became conscious that several people had touched my arms and were right in my face even though I was wearing PPE gear. Others so grateful wanted to shake hands or pat me on the back. It was surreal. It was like a scene from the movies.We ended up having to run and carry the boxes to quite a few houses as the occupants were too old or too frail and it was safe for us to do so to keep the distance. It was a major workout and we were puffing hard with faces dripping with sweat trying to keep up with it all.When we finally finished I came away feeling quite sad and wanting to cry, confused, angry and affected by what I had just experienced and seen…also fired up, and full of empathy, compassion and hope for these people and my team members. I was also grateful for my family and what I have…Lord I’m out of my depth …show me the way”

Feed a Family

The demand for food support continues to grow each week to around 650

Families are writing and ringing in through the night and early hours of the morning. The foodboxes provided are valued at $120 each and are personally delivered to their front doors by the strong team of around 30 Vinnies volunteer drivers. We are fortunate to have the assistance of Kiwharvest and Auckland Citymission food donations that allow us to supplement the foodboxes with extra food to cut costs and allow the re-allocation of money to the purchase of more bulk food supplies in.

We are grateful for the Auckland Catjolic Diocese for their monetary support and also to MSD for supplementing some our Foodbank costs. To date Auckland Vinnies have delivered food to over 1,500 families struggling as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown. We know that in the weeks to come this number will only increase as people live into unemployment , social isolation, and the temporary closing of many social services support networks. there is also the increase of domestic violence and the increase of stress, anxiety and the break down of  mental health.

Feed a Family

March Highlights

We Are in This Together

As the lockdown continues amidst the global pandemic caused by covid-19, families are balancing the roles of helping to prevent disease transmission whilst also ensuring there is enough food to put on the table. A number of foodbanks run by various non-for profit collectives have closed across the country since the lockdown announcement. Foodbanks such as those operated by Auckland Society of St Vincent de Paul branches have been working overtime to keep families fed during the covid-19 pandemic. In response to this, a number of young adults have stepped up to offer any support they can. In anticipation of the growing need within the community, bulk chillers and freezers were connected and made ready for the incoming bulk food for the Vinnies foodbank. Between receiving stock, organising the foodbank and preparing logistics, these men and women would find time to fill in foodparcel requests for the Auck CBD, wider community areas as well as family lists from Social workers.

 The realities of the covid-19 have been realised none more so than in our communities. Amidst calls to ensure the health and safety of families across the country, food has become even more important as both comfort and source of nutrition during this time of grief and healing. The unfolding of the lockdown has since called into question how Aotearoa as a nation might be able to ward off a food crisis that is pandemic-related. In response to this, young adults have been operating Foodbank Satellites from their homes all over Auckland. The bulk stock is dropped off to their homes and they are given lists of deliveries in their local area. Within the last few weeks alone there has been a steep surge in requests coming in from families needing support. This has meant an increase of teams and added precautions around social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and sterilizing. The team of staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to process orders and pack boxes to meet the demand.

Health and wellbeing is influenced heavily by what and how we eat. The ability to consume food that is nutritional and accessible has become undermined by the intertwining of numerous realities. The reality for many families is that job security has been shaken, and in some cases rendered absent altogether. There are utility payments that still need to be paid. There are growing health care needs amongst those who live in homes with poor insulation. There are those who have isolated themselves in sickness with little to no access to support. While food is a significant need, many families have sorely missed the opportunities for face to face conversations or having someone there to hear their story.

The Auckland Vinnies team recognise that now, more than ever, solidarity, compassion and prayers will be what builds resilience against food insecurity. It is well known amongst the staff and volunteers of SVdP that upholding dignity through meaningful relationships will be key to ensuring that families do not go without during their time of need.

Feed A Family – The Team in Action

Supporting families during this time would not be possible without the compassion and determination of the SVdP volunteers and staff. From handling referals, to packing/restocking and deliveries, these men and women have helped ensure the community feels held and safe.

Feed a Family

Feed A Family

Feed A Family is programme facilitated by the Auckland St Vincent de Paul Centre in Newton that seeks to raise awareness and respond to Food Insecurity.

The programme has differing components and services such as:

1. Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) and building trust as well as connections with those seeking support and with local advocates.

2. Response: Understanding, advocacy and referral. Support is achieved through practical help and the provision of food boxes which include nutritious cooked meals.

3. Building of Relationships: with those seeking support, other social service providers, school communities, local parishes and donors.

4. Education and Awareness: Sharing the stories and factual information in colleges, church communities and local communities through presentations and mulitmedia.

5. Fundraising and sponsorship:  Winter and Christmas Appeals to support families in need.

6. Feed A Family youth food projects: Launching of canned food collections, Cooking projects etc.

Each of these services and opportunities to assist are offered in the hope of bringing our communities closer together, as we are reminded by the Gospels that we are also called to God through our care of one another.

Feed A Family – Pandemic Response

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a steep surge in requests arising from families needing support.

The Vinnies Covid-19 Response team have heard and seen first-hand some of the extreme impoverished situations that people are facing since the Covid-19 Lockdown. The response team have connected with hundreds of vulnerable, struggling families and individuals over the past two weeks. One in particular shared:

“It was a real eye opener dropping off food to a tent in the middle of a deserted car lot… I dropped off 3 parcels to one address, I was confused and thinking someone was trying to take advantage of the free food. Boy was I wrong! I was really wrong. One foodbox went to the basement where the grandmother was isolating with a teenager, one to the back shed where a older siblings teenagers and babies were, and the last to the carport tent where the dad was. It was cold, there was not enough blankets and beds. They had a makeshift cooking arrangment outside that did not look safe. They were all trying to isolate and were quite stressed because nappies and formula had run out and their wasn’t enough food. Thank God their neighbour who had phone credit rang on their behalf…”

NOTE: SVdP has since referred these families to Social services to be housed and they are being moved into more suitable accomodation. The SVdP response team will continue to support them with food, other resources and connect in with them regularly.

As the SVdP response team continues to support families in need, they are mindful that they cannot do it alone. We have heard your enquiries about practical ways to support us, and have outlined below the best ways how:

1) Monetary Donations
Soc of St Vincent De Paul AK 12-3017-0500224-00
Particulars: Your last name
Reference: Covid-19

2) Countdown or Pak’n Save vouchers

To request a tax receipt please email:

For any enquiries please email:

Feed a Family

February Highlights

The Feed a Family Story

The vision for the Feed A Family appeal was initiated in 2015 by the foodbank staff and youth team of St Vincent de Paul of Kingsland Centre. With the rise in ‘food insecurity’ and the growing awareness that this was an invisible issue which needed to be addressed.

After much discussion it was understood that people impacted by food insecurity, those providing foodbank services as well as those who wanted to assist needed to come together. There needed to be ongoing face to face connections so as to grow in understanding and propose a way forward together. What unfolded over time was a comprehensible awareness educational programme for Vinnies in Catholic secondary schools. These shed light on systemic drivers of food insecurity and the stories of those affected.

Today this food Insecurity programme – Feed A Family is facilitated in 15 Catholic colleges in Auckland. As a response to this kaupapa, students and staff learn about the stories of those affected. They also learn about the causes of food insecurity before mobilising their school to collect food. This is then distributed to families seeking support from foodbanks.

In addition to this, students are also invited to volunteer in Vinnies centres so to get an integrated experience of what happens behind the scenes in order to alleviate poverty. The students are also invited to take part in the cooking of bulk nutritious meals to give to those who simply do not have the means, ability or resources to cook them. This part of the programme was a direct response to families and individuals sharing stories about the challenges of accessing cooked nutritious meals. Often the places these families were housed in either did not have adequate cooking facilities, insufficient funds, stress, time pressures as well as ill health.

In 2017 another part of this Feed A Family programme was been rolled out in the central Auckland Catholic parishes through the Winter and Christmas Feed A Family Appeal. Through this appeal, the stories of those afflicted are shared during Mass and an invitation is given out to parishioners to accompany a family through prayers. They are also invited to support through the sponsoring of a foodbox for the week or a month.

Each of these services and opportunities to assist are offered in the hope of bringing our communities closer together, as we are reminded by the Gospels that we are also called to God through our care of one another.

KiwiHarvest Lending a Helping Hand

The Society of St Vincent are grateful recipients of KiwiHarvest, a non-for-profit organisation that specialises in redistributing fresh food produce that might otherwise be thrown in for waste. These quality sources of food have proven invaluable to the formation of food parcels, as the items are nutritional and sustainable. These provide a welcome respite for families who might otherwise receive canned or non-perishable items for the majority of their foodparcels. When coupled with the donations of the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal this ensures that meals are both healthy and filling.

Accompanying and Supporting Families

In the last year over 5,000 people were supported through the provision of food parcels and budgeting advice. These come at an important time for many, particularly those who struggle to find where their next meal will come from. Often those who seek support from the Society of St Vincent de Paul are those who encounter an unexpected setback. Through the donations of the ‘Feed A Family’ appeal, food becomes one less thing for families to worry about. By redirecting money from groceries to other costs such as utilities and debt, families are able to get a stronger foothold on living costs. A number of volunteers and staff work hard to ensure that families are receiving quality food parcel and referral assistance. Each food parcel contains a mix of nutritional, easy to cook ingredients including fruit, vege and meat produce. The donations towards the appeal are significant in the sense that families are able to create meals which are healthy and positively contribute to their wellbeing. 

Sharing a Meal with the Community

Auckland City Mission is a hub in the heart of the city, providing a source of support for those without a home, those with addictions and those struggling to put food on the table. In 2019 alone City Mission distributed 23,000 emergency food parcels to families and individuals in desperate need. They were able to house over 50 people through housing first, provide 17,000 medical consultations to vulnerable, high-needs patients; and admit 354 people to residential drug & alcohol detoxification. At the centre of their services is a recognition of peoples dignity and the significance of compassionate care. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is grateful for the opportunity to journey alongside other organisations that support the community. The tuesday night shared meal for wahine continues to run strong, with many volunteers from the Society taking part. This is a space for women to cook a hearty dinner and connect in with other women who do not have a place to call home. It is the spirit of conversation and sharing stories that make these mealtimes so memorable. 

Auckland City Mission
Feed a Family

January Highlights

For Wāhine, by Wāhine

To bring about connection through face to face and a safe space for wahine to gather over the kitchen table for a home cooked meal. There is also the concern for food and nutrition security for all people, there has been a call for more effective and equitable food assistance; particularly for women in need within Auckland.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Auckland Citymission, Salvation Army amongst many other Charitable organisations works hard to achieve this through their different community programmes. 

Last September ,the Vinnies collaborated with the 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 gather, have nutritious kai and have face to face conversations.

As part of the new initiative,the female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer alternatively every Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the preparing of and sharing of a three course  evening dinner. The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and the food to prepare. Over the weeks the numbers of participants have steadily increased from four to around fourty. The feedback has been very positive and there is an expectation that these numbers will continue to increase steadily.

The simple act of sharing in a dinner breaks down barriers and provides an opportunity for new connections to be made. In this safe and positive environment, the Vinnies Youth Volunteers continue to nurture deep and meaningful relationships with those present. This weekly project will continue to unfold over the coming year.

Making Meals for the Multitudes: Youth Volunteers make Foodparcels for Families

Many people can go to the supermarket and purchase the food they need, but not everyone can get enough healthy food easily. This is part of the issue of food insecurity. As such, a sense of insecurity can vary from family to family. In response to a growing need for nutritionous and filling meals within Auckland, a diverse group of volunteers have been assisting the Society of St Vincent de Paul with making bulk food parcels. Some of the volunteers have also assisted in the making of labels, restocking the foodbank and filling up shampoo and detergent bottles destined for families.

This assistance comes at a welcome time as the number of families seeking assistance has all but decreased since the end of a busy Christmas season in 2019. The volunteers have been a source of energy and enthusiasm as they have seen and filled a need within the community. It is hoped that the parcels which they have made will go a long way to making sure that fewer families go hungry this month.