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 distributed over 3,000 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.

Feed a Family

December Weekly Update

Supporting Those Without a Home

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.

Volunteers at James Liston Hostel

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.