Sikh community stepping in again as hundreds of families queue for food

Emergency food providers have warned their toughest winter yet is set to get even tougher.

The return to alert level 3 has left thousands of Aucklanders desperately seeking help.

That need was evident on Sunday as hundreds of families queued outside a Sikh temple, many getting food parcels for the very first time.

Car after car after car - the demand for food parcels is staggering. A kilometre-long queue wrapped around Takanini streets today, a clear sign families are struggling to make ends meet.

"It's more demand than before," Deljit Singh, from the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, says.

It's taken the Sikh community three days to gather food to give to people in need. Last lockdown saw record demand. This week that record's been blown out of the water.

This afternoon, they handed out 2100 packs - that's on top of 1500 given out several days ago.

"We are here to serve the community," Singh says.

"We are not here to convert anyone to religion, instead we are here to convert people to humanity."

Inside it was just as busy as the carpark. Dozens of volunteers packed food together, each bag enough to feed five people for three days.

The Sikh community helping out.
The Sikh community helping out. Photo credit: Newshub

The resurgance of COVID-19 in the community has brought a second wave of hardship and this support goes a long way.

"My youngest one's so happy," one woman told Newshub.

"Very very grateful," another said.

Almost 25,000 government food grants were given out last week but that only includes the first two days of alert level 3.

And with demand like this emergency food providers say the need is much much higher. KidsCan was already helping thousands of extra families this winter.

"Things are really tough for them and in fact we know that this is the toughest winter yet for the children we support," CEO Julie Chapman says.

Schools are sending food to homes with classrooms shut and the charity is preparing for demand to soar.

"That is just going to increase as redundancies, job losses continue to bite," Chapman says.

So while this might be a shorter stint of lockdown it'll be a long time before the cars stop coming.