Countdown kicks off Christmas food rescue appeal: Countdown and Salvation Army team up for the Christmas Food Rescue appeal to help thousands of Kiwis in need

Countdown and the Salvation Army have kicked off their annual Christmas Food Rescue Appeal to help the growing number of New Zealanders who have registered for food assistance.

Countdown is encouraging shoppers to make a food donation in-store, or a cash donation at the checkout as part the annual Food Rescue Appeal. All 181 Countdown stores will each donate $500 of groceries to their local Salvation Army centre, contributing more than $90,000 of groceries to The Salvation Army’s food banks nationally.

The Salvation Army’s National Secretary for Social Services, Major Pamela Waugh, says that around 26,000 families are expected to ask for food assistance by the end of December 2015. This will be an increase on last year. She says a range of factors including debt and the rising cost of housing contributes to Kiwis being in financial difficulty particularly during the Christmas period.

“Many families come to us with complicated debt issues that need in depth work over a long period. Most of those very fragile families have no disposable income for Christmas while other families are only just surviving on their income and need extra assistance,” says Major Waugh.

“Housing costs and job security are also major concerns and many family incomes are consumed by the cost of housing, electricity and other bills, meaning food becomes the expendable cost,” she added.

Major Waugh says celebrating Christmas is important for a child’s social inclusion.

“Our food hampers usually contain meat, vegetables, dessert, fruit and treats that allow families to mark Christmas as a special occasion. Without this some families have a bleak Christmas that’s just a normal day. When school starts in the New Year, other children are talking about their fun Christmas and holidays. What do these children have to contribute if their Christmas has been a non-event?”

Major Waugh says while families with children remain the Salvation Army’s largest group requesting assistance, single men between 20 and 50 years old are the fastest growing group, with requests for assistance growing year after year.

“Often this group is marginalised from housing and welfare assistance. Many of these men are parents so have the added responsibility of child support payments on very limited incomes. This group presents as one of New Zealand’s poorest due to housing costs, debt and meeting child support obligations.”

Pat McEntee, Countdown’s Acting Managing Director, says the Food Rescue campaign is one important way supermarkets around the country can use their presence in local communities to help improve what can be a stressful time financially for many Kiwis.

“Christmas can be stressful for many Kiwis who are struggling to make ends meet. Our partnership with The Salvation Army aims to ease the stress for some of these families. We encourage our customers to help bring a little bit of joy for those in need by making a cash donation at checkout or by adding a few extra non-perishable grocery items to their shop and donating them in specially-marked trolleys at their local Countdown,” says Mr McEntee.

Most-needed food items for the Christmas Food Rescue Appeal:

  • Pasta and rice
    Cereal
    Canned spaghetti and baked beans
    Canned fruit and canned vegetables
    Canned fish and canned meat
    Sauces and spreads
    Sugar and flour
    Lunch box and snack food items such as muesli bars, nuts
    Tea, coffee and Milo
    Baby food
    Toiletries, hygiene and cleaning products including nappies.
    The Countdown Christmas Food Rescue Appeal is part of an ongoing programme that provides more than $3.5 million in food each year to food bank partners including The Salvation Army, Countdown’s national food bank partner.
| Keywords: Christmas, Charity