COVID-19: Salvation Army sees 84 percent increase for emergency food parcels in first week of lockdown

A single mum who had her hours reduced due to the COVID-19 lockdown is calling on the Prime Minister to come to low-decile suburbs and see the hardship for herself.

The Salvation Army says it saw an 84 percent increase for emergency food parcels in the first week of lockdown.

Many needy children can't receive Government-supplied school breakfast and lunches in lockdown and many parents are struggling to keep up with the extra meals.

While many New Zealanders are practicing their lockdown loaf or perfecting their focaccia and sourdough, single mum Ada is working hard to put bread on the table.

"I mainly just make sure that there's bread, butter, milk - that kind of thing," she told Newshub.

Ada has three boys and with lockdown meaning the children no longer receive breakfast and lunch and school, her supermarket bill has doubled.

"It's usually $100 to $150 a week, now it's between $200 and $300 a week," she said. 

Ada works as a customer service operator. Lockdown has meant to her hours have been reduced.

She's on just above the minimum wage of $20 per hour, paying more in food and power - so she can't afford to have hours chopped.

In the first week of lockdown, there was an 84 percent increase in demand for emergency food parcels.

"Probably those that were donating to food parcels last year are now receiving help from a food bank," said Ronji Tanielu of the Salvation Army. "If this lockdown drags longer then we're really concerned about what could come in the next couple of weeks."

Newshub visited a food parcel distribution centre in south Auckland on Thursday, which wouldn't normally be open - but they've had to extend their hours. Newshub was there for one minute when people in a car pulled up looking for a parcel.

In 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon, the centre gave out 58 parcels.

The Salvation Army wants the Government to figure out a way to continue programmes delivering food that would have previously gone to schools and is also calling for a freeze on rent increases.

One social service providing interest-free, fee-free microloans is receiving calls from people wanting to put even small repayments on hold. 

"It's $20 or $30 a week so for people to be asking us to reduce that I think is very significant of how desperate things actually are," said Natalie Vincent of Ngā Tāngata Microfinance Trust.

Ada, meanwhile, said she's telling her story because her family needs help.

"And it's best for Jacinda [Ardern] to come to the streets, have a look."