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The kaiāwhina (helpers) of Te Whāriki’s Pātaka Kai are keeping people fed during lockdown. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

High demand for food during lockdown

The need for food from Paeroa’s Pātaka Kai has more than doubled since the start of the latest Covid-19 lockdown.
The food rescue, run by Te Whāriki Manawāhine o Hauraki (Hauraki Women’s Refuge), has seen more than 140 families a week utilise the service. That has grown from the 50-70 typically helped in a week pre-lockdown.
“There definitely is a need there,” Te Whāriki general manager Denise Messiter said.
“We’ve also had people request support through kai packs, which we deliver to their homes contactless if they cannot get to the Pātaka Kai.”
The rescue, on Paeroa’s main street, was launched back in June, and was inspired by the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown last year.
Te Whāriki chairperson Josie Anderson earlier told The Profile the lockdown brought to light the district’s “seriously lacking” food security.
“Last year, with Covid-19, it came to the fore, and it actually gave groups like ours a chance to not only know it, but to take actual steps forward to do something about it,” she said.
“When we were delivering food and supporting whanau, one thing we found when we sat back to reflect, was that although this was about providing kai to our families, we saw that whānau were actually starting to participate in the decisions themselves.
“What that was saying to us was when our families have the resources, they are more than capable of making decisions for themselves.”
Denise said this lockdown, those utilising the Pātaka Kai – which is considered an essential service across all alert levels – were people of all ages.
“People really do just take what they need, and I think the Pātaka Kai supports people to remain connected to their communities. It also supports them to make choices around what they need in terms of what is available,” she said.
“The other thing we’ve seen that has been really awesome is people coming in with food. Those who need to use the Pātaka Kai are using it, and then there are community members who are supporting it by donating fresh vegetables, eggs, sausages.
“That’s what we’re seeing: just how caring the Paeroa community is.”
DETAILS: Pātaka Kai is located at 66 Belmont Rd, Paeroa. Covid-19 social distancing measures are in place. Food is to be donated only during opening hours. To contact Te Whāriki Manawāhine O Hauraki, free call 0800 868 3132.