Waikato top stories Covid-19: Demand for food parcels soars in Hamilton as Delta restrictions bite
Waikato Times by Aaron Leaman – Aug 25 2021
Requests for food bank parcels have surged in Hamilton as Covid lockdown restrictions start to bite across the city.
At St Vincent de Paul Hamilton, demand for food parcels has increased fourfold since the start of level 4 restrictions last week, general manager Mike Rolton said.
And complicating matters are new Delta rules preventing community groups from delivering prepared meals to the most needy.
“Normally we’d do 20 family food parcels per day on average but, since lockdown started, that has jumped to 80 parcels,” Rolton said. Its food pack can include staples such as fruit and vegetables, bread, oats and pasta, eggs, canned food, and meat.
In addition to its food bank, St Vincent de Paul Hamilton, also known as Vinnies, offers community meals three times a week. Level 4 restrictions have caused the community meals to be suspended, Rolton said.
New rules brought in to prevent the spread of the Delta variant also prohibit the delivery of prepared meals.
“Delta has changed the whole scenario,” Rolton said.
“Last year, we were handing out meals for people to eat but MSD [Ministry of Social Development] have stopped that. On Friday, we got an email saying that we can’t deliver food prepared on our premises and that these are part of the new Delta protocols.
“When we shift down to level 3, meal deliveries should be able to start again.”
Rolton said volunteers and staff working at Vinnies’ food bank wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a mask and full face screen, suit and gloves.
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said the city is well served by its various community groups but the council is exploring ways it can help those in need.
On Monday, elected members agreed to offer the kitchens at the Claudelands Events Centre to assist groups providing meals to residents – lockdown rules permitting.
An emergency food centre was set up at the events centre during last year’s lockdown, providing meals for families in need.
Southgate said councillors are briefed via video link-up every second day to ensure they have an accurate picture of how the city is coping during lockdown.
“We haven’t determined to give any monetary grants at this point in time, rather we’ve decided to work alongside some of those community organisations that are well-equipped,” Southgate said.
“The social infrastructure in place now is far better than when we went into lockdown last time. We enabled some of that with grants to things like ‘Here to help u’ and other organisations to give them the resources they needed to provide food and give people access to help when they need it.”
Southgate said elected members will meet via video link-up on Friday to discuss other opportunities to support residents following the Government’s announcement on alert levels.
Any significant spending of public money also has to be transparent, she said.
“Council has to be flexible, but at the moment we don’t feel we need to jump in with monetary support. If things should change, we will of course consider it.”
Lance Vervoort, city council’s general manager of community, said feedback indicates community groups are able to meet the needs of residents at the moment. During last year’s lockdown, council staff assisted with the distribution of food. That scenario could be repeated this lockdown.
By vinnies|2022-06-06T02:25:59+00:00August 25th, 2021|