Low on stock . . . St Vincent de Paul Timaru volunteer Mary Brown is hoping for donations in the lead up to Toot for Tucker. PHOTO: HELEN HOLT

by Helen Holt

Timaru foodbanks are seeking donations as demand rises.

The annual Toot for Tucker food drive will be held on Monday, and donated items will be gratefully received by local food bank staff and volunteers, who are reporting challenges keeping the shelves stocked.

Presbyterian Support South Canterbury Family Works manager Liz Nolan said the shelves had been very bare.

“There’s not a lot on our shelves.

“We have seen an increase in demand since lockdown, not quite as much as last year, but there’s definitely been an increase.

“This year we have delivered 120 to 140 food parcels every month.”

She said families were careful with money, but were hit hard by unexpected expenses.

“Our families know how to budget, but get thrown off if there’s an unexpected bill or if their fridge breaks. The increase in rents has also been a big struggle for some of them.

“We always see a demand in the lead up to Christmas, just with the added expenses for families.”

She said the foodbank welcomed non-perishables such as spreads, pasta and canned goods.

Salvation Army communications manager Vivienne Hill said the cold weather had increased demand for assistance from foodbanks in Timaru.

“One of the many reasons for the increase is large power accounts.

“The power subsidy has stopped but the weather still requires heating to be used, especially for families of young children, elderly or those with health conditions.

“Seasonal work is another reason – both lack of and that it hasn’t started yet.

“The fact that many markets are no longer operating is also having an effect on incomes for those who make items and rely on markets that are now being cancelled.”

Aside from non-perishable items, the biggest demand was for tampons, pads, maternity pads and nappies, she said.

St Vincent de Paul Timaru foodbank volunteer Mike Crawford said there had been pressure on the shelves over the past two weeks.

“Usually I’d say we have plenty of supplies, but right now our stocks are low.

“It was relatively quiet during and after lockdown until about two weeks ago. We’ve had a large number of phone calls for food deliveries.”

Manager Sharon Leonard said the team expected demand to increase as Christmas approached.

She said the organisation was looking forward to Toot for Tucker, and encouraged people to donate to the shop during open hours.

Toot for Tucker is an annual event run by Timaru Suburban Lions to collect donations for local food banks. Drivers will toot when on your street on November 15 from 6pm, and people are asked to leave their donations by their letterboxes.