• Carol Barron

Covid-19 & Food Insecurity

Updated: Jan 11

COVID-19 has created a wider economic divide between the rich and poor. Households with lower incomes, or no income have been more affected by COVID-19 and even getting food on the table is often a struggle.

“Food insecurity in Aotearoa is rooted in in equalities”

Jennie Smith, Kore Hiakai Kairangahau-Researcher[1]

Kore Hiakai have recently released a report, Ka Mākona,[2] which provides a snapshot of the current reality for those who experience food insecurity. The information presented enables us to have a better understanding of the root causes of food insecurity. The scenarios given in the report were constructed using data from before the latest COVID-19 lockdown. Food insecurity in Aotearoa is not a consequence of COVID-19 lockdowns, but this increased demands on foodbanks and commnity food distributors supporting those most in need. The report, Ka Mākonaso that we all have enough to thrive, has been created to generate dialogue on how we might work better together across a range of organisations, government agencies and with communities to address the systemic issues that cause food insecurity.

Methodist organisations around the motu are working hard to make sure households have food on the table to sustain them. Here are their stories and they all tell me that every little bit helps, so if you are able to make a contribution, no matter how small, it will make a difference. This is your opportunity to address the inequality in Aotearoa.

The Panmure Tongan Congregation, Me’A’Ofa Fungani Methodist Church, in Hobson Drive is led by Rev Falakesi Filiai. They have responded to food insecurity in their East Auckland community and set up a food bank - Feleoko ‘O E ‘Ofa. They organise collection of food, and packing & delivery of over 170 food parcels a week for families with over 300 families on their database. Because demand exceeds supply, all families receive a call every week so their needs can be assessed and food parcels prioritised for those whose needs are greatest.

Rev Filiai says, “We are a little church, and even though we are tiny in numbers, we have a big heart to reach out to all people who are struggling during this time.”

Since the first lockdown in Auckland last year, Rev Filiai organised the youth and young couples from his parish to do this work - set up a food bank, create a database of people in need, assess need, collect food, put the donated food into parcels based on the Kore Hiakai standard food measure, and deliver the parcels to people in need in their community.

They have continued this voluntary work and are reaching people who are not residents that are not eligible for any government support. Bread is collected from supermarkets as well as donations of food from a wide variety of sources, including Kai Collections.

Deliveries are prioritised for the elderly as many of them do not drive, or do not have vehicles. They also cater for larger families with 10+ members in a household.

To make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in Auckland: please email the Panmure Tongan Methodist Church Panmure – for their bank account details.

Josh and Mataiva Robertson, from Puna ‘Oa, Sinoti Samoa Methodist Mission, organise a food parcel delivery service from their own home, in New Plymouth. All the food stored, sorted and packaged up in their home and delivered to those in need in their community.

Donate today and make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in New Plymouth: please email Mataiva or Filo from Puna’Oa, Sinoti Samoa Methodist Mission for their bank account details: or

The Sinoti Samoa Auckland and Manukau Districts are also reaching out to families in need so please feel free to contact Superintendent Suiva’aia Te’o on

Kathleen Tuai-Ta’ufo’ou, Executive Director at Siaola, Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission, also organises food parcels to those most at need in the Auckland community. Kathleen reports that although demand is dropping from a peak during lockdown last year, Siaola staff delivered 150 last week, down from 170 the week before. Siaola employ paid staff to deliver food using three vans to families in need in Tamaki Makaurau.

To make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in Auckland: please email Siaola Vahefonua Tongan Methodist Mission – for their bank account details.

Methodist City Action, the Hamilton Methodist Mission, is an agent for the Hamilton Christian Food Bank, which is also seeing demand. In addition to this work, Methodist City Action provide meals for the Hamilton Christian Men’s Shelter, as they are not able to have their weekly community meal.

To make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in Hamilton: please email Methodist City Action for their bank account details.

Palmerston North Methodist Social Services run a food bank using a mana-enhancing, strengths based model, where people come in and choose from the foodbank, like a supermarket, rather than receiving a bag of pre-packaged food they may or may not know how to use. During lockdown, they collaborated with other social services to distribute food parcels.

To make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in Palmerston North: please email Palmerston North Methodist Social Services - for their bank account details.

Wesley Community Action runs a community pantry at Wesley House in Cannons Creek, in Porirua, Wellington. This is open from 9.30am to 12pm Mondays to Thursdays. At this site there is a garden which is a resource for the whole community.

To make a donation and make a difference to inequality and for food insecure families in Wellington: please e-mail Wesley Community Action – for their bank account details.

If you have any questions or would like more information about how you can support equality and food security in Aotearoa, please feel free to contact me.

Carol Barron, National Coordinator

03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 |

[1] Kore Hiakai – Zero Hunger is a collective made up of a group of social service organisations who are working together to eliminate food insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand. [2] Ka Mākona, Income adequacy in Aotearoa New Zealand: Three Household Scenarios

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