Million dollar milestone for The Salvation Army ‘not enough’

The Salvation Army in New Zealand has hit a million dollar milestone, but says its work is far from done.

The Foodbank Project, a joint initiative between The Salvation Army, Nelson-based developers Lucid and Countdown supermarkets has just ticked over $1 million in donations providing more than 33,000 food parcels and other essentials for Kiwis in need since it launched in 2015.

Jono Bell, The Salvation Army's head of community ministries, says that while a million dollars is an important milestone, the organisation needs more help to get vulnerable people through winter.

“We want to thank the New Zealand public for their selfless donations to The Foodbank Project. A million dollars in four years is a huge effort and has meant we have been able to give a hand up to thousands of Kiwis in need.

“Unfortunately, the sad reality is that through the colder months we see a consistently high demand for food assistance and our foodbanks across the country will still get stretched very thin.”

The Foodbank Project, New Zealand’s only online foodbank, provides an online solution to top up local foodbanks in addition to Countdown’s purple donation bins in its supermarkets.

Donors to The Foodbank Project can choose from a range of products that are critically needed for food parcels and can make one-off or recurring donations. Countdown then packs and delivers the donated items to the nearest Salvation Army foodbank hub.

“The process is very quick and means we can respond to urgent need,” says Jono.

To drive vital donations to The Salvation Army’s network of 69 foodbanks across winter, Countdown is yesterday (3 June) launched its Food Rescue Winter Appeal in support of the charity.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, says the Countdown Food Rescue Winter Appeal is a tangible way for people to help those who urgently need food support.

“New Zealanders have responded with incredible generosity to The Foodbank Project since we launched, and together with dropping off food donations in store, it’s an easy way we can all help keep foodbanks stocked over the winter months when there is such need.”

Jono Bell says that the rising cost of living is the main reason families seek food assistance from The Salvation Army.

“I’ve seen first-hand how stressful it is when foodbank shelves are empty. The Foodbank Project is an extraordinary resource that provides our hubs with donation continuity and certainty and gives our team a way to create awareness around the items that are urgently needed.”

The majority of donors to The Foodbank Project are women and almost half donate regularly, often once a month. 

“It’s reassuring to know what we have coming in each week through The Foodbank Project and means we can put our focus on other specific items that we need to source,” says Jono.

The top donated items include penne pasta, mixed vegetables and women’s sanitary products. The most-needed items are updated regularly for each local foodbank hub to reflect the need in that foodbank and community. Current items in high demand include onions, potatoes and cheese. The Foodbank Project allows for fresh food to be donated – something that is not possible with traditional donation bins in store.

As part of Countdown’s Food Rescue Winter Appeal, two winter bundle options will be available to donate. The bundles are made up of a selection of fresh food such as beef mince, potatoes and cheese, versatile food such as spaghetti and hygiene items such as soap.

The Countdown Food Rescue Winter Appeal runs from 3 – 30 June. Customers are encouraged to donate food at any Countdown store via the designated purple Food Rescue bins, donate a winter food bundle online via The Foodbank Project, or donate money in-store at the checkout.

The Foodbank Project and Countdown’s Food Rescue Winter Appeal are part of the supermarket’s national Food Rescue programme which last year saw $3.7 million of food and other items donated to The Salvation Army, food rescue partners and foodbanks around the country. Countdown delivers The Foodbank Project donations free of charge and provides items donated at cost.

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