Reflecting, Serving & Connecting
At the beginning of this school term, students from across Auckland put their hands up and said ‘YES’ to upholding the dignity of their community members through meaningful service. In many cases they mobilised their peers and wider student body, engaging in challenging conversations around food insecurity, homelessness, incarceration and social exclusion.
Prior to the lockdown, a number of schools took their learning to the next level and partipated in bulk cooking programmes for families in need. This entailed preparing large amounts of nutritionous meals to accompany food parcels for families and individuals in need. The colleges of De La Salle, Rosmini and Carmel were among the first to begin this work of service, contributing a significant amount of time aside from their studies to ensure less people go hungry.
The students of Baradene College also sought to make a difference for families; organising a school wide food drive. Over $5,000 worth of non perishable food items were donated. Prior to the lockdown, this provided a much needed boost for foodbanks across Auckland.
Each of these works of service proved immensely pivotal with getting students connected to their communities. Amidst the realities of the current Covid-19 lockdown, these young men and women were able to faithfully support those struggling to make ends meet. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to serve left an impression on the Auckland Vinnies team, who have continued the journey of service up to now.
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.