December 2, 2021

Delta delivering new challenges for food providers

Lack of access to storage and facilities and lack of direct supply for local distributors and manufacturers are just some of the issues facing emergency food providers in West Auckland. 

Healthy Families Waitākere and Community Waitākere recently reached out to food relief providers in West Auckland to evaluate their experiences throughout the current lockdown. Issues that saw little change between the two 2020 lockdowns have persisted in 2021, explains Megan Beard, Systems Innovator at Healthy Families Waitākere. 

“As well as lack of storage and direct supply from manufacturers, there is also a perception of duplication, where several organisations are supporting the same families.” 

Kai West convened a series of four hui from August to December 2020 with the purpose of bringing people across the food relief system in West Auckland together to network and share experiences and practices of working in a pandemic.   

“There was general agreement that the work could be better coordinated across West Auckland with a shared approach to strengthen resources.” 

As a follow up, and in light of the lengthened lockdown with the emergence of the Delta strain, the collective reached out to local providers for a more recent take on their insights. 

“Lockdown with the Delta strain has been a very different beast so insights and experiences on the frontline of emergency response are valuable. Overall, stakeholders indicated they were better prepared this time round and organised with staff and logistics, and the food contained in parcels saw some improvement in variety and appropriateness for different cultures. 

“Demand has obviously increased, with some organisations seeing weekly increases in demand as the lockdown has lengthened.  This has been met with an increase in providers of food relief,” adds Megan. 

The new insights also show greater sharing of food across organisations and an increase in the use of digital forms to access services, which ultimately has an impact on parts of the community that lack access or skills to use online tools. 

“A willingness to continue a food relief network was strongly indicated so we will look to convene after the summer holiday period in 2022,” adds Megan. 

Looking ahead, information gathered from the latest survey will contribute to Kai West’s community-level insights for central government advocacy and assessing if there is a need for increasing dedicated resource to facilitate this network.