So what ex­actly is a food bank?

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Ques­tions we are some­times asked at the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau Porirua are: what is a food bank? What will I get in a food par­cel? How long will a par­cel last?

It sounds like they are rel­a­tively sim­ple ques­tions to an­swer.

How­ever, in Porirua we have more than one food bank. All are re­liant on do­na­tions of food (and money) from the com­mu­nity (or fun­ders).

Food parcels are not an en­ti­tle­ment, but are given at the dis­cre­tion of a food bank when some­one has an un­ex­pected emer­gency; they are not avail­able on an on­go­ing ba­sis.

How much is pro­vided will de­pend on the num­ber of mouths to be fed and how long the emer­gency sit­u­a­tion is likely to last.

The cri­te­ria used by each food bank in de­ter­min­ing whether to pro­vide a food par­cel are slightly dif­fer­ent.

One may pre­fer a let­ter from Work and In­come show­ing that a client has been de­clined as­sis­tance, and an­other may only deliver within Porirua City.

Most su­per­mar­kets have a food box, where do­na­tions of food can be left. Those items will be used by re­cip­i­ent food banks to pro­vide parcels to an in­di­vid­ual or fam­ily.

In Porirua we are a gen­er­ous com­mu­nity, with sta­ple items of food be­ing do­nated weekly.

All the food banks are deeply ap­pre­cia­tive of people donat­ing food. Food banks through­out the Welling­ton re­gion hold food ap­peals dur­ing the year, usu­ally on a Satur­day.

A food par­cel, more of­ten than not, will not con­tain fresh veg­eta­bles or meat.

Some­times a par­cel may con­tain tinned fish (such as sal­mon), pasta or soup. Most food banks are able to pro­vide bread, tinned food (such as spaghetti and baked beans), ba­sic toi­letries (such as toi­let paper), ce­real, bread and spreads (such as jam, Mar­mite).

When food banks ques­tion a client as to why they re­quire a par­cel, it is not to be nosy, but to es­tab­lish what caused the emer­gency and help the in­di­vid­ual or fam­ily.

Find­ing out when that per­son is next ex­pect­ing to be paid (ei­ther ben­e­fit or wages) can also help to de­ter­mine the size of the par­cel.

Know­ing what is hap­pen­ing for the client may en­able the in­ter­viewer to pro­vide additional as­sis­tance, such as re­fer­ral to a budget ser­vice or pos­si­bly sug­gest­ing a client be helped by a ben­e­fit ad­vo­cate.

Our bureau has in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to food banks, budget ser­vices and Pow­erSwitch ( to check dif­fer­ent op­tions around power com­pa­nies).

Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau Porirua, level 2, Pem­ber House, 16 Ha­gley St, Mon­day till Fri­day, 9am till 4.30pm.

Phone 04 2378846 or free phone 0800 367222, go to or you can sim­ply email

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