Coronavirus: Food parcel demand up 504 pct in a year as lockdown pushes families to the brink

Demand for food support has reached an all-time high as the Delta outbreak pushes families and local food banks to the brink.

But those on the frontline warn the situation is only getting worse. David Letele and his Auckland-based team at Brown Buttabean Motivation foodbank usually pack around 50 food parcels a week, but it's now 700.

"I liken it to a tsunami where it's just never-ending. It's just wave, after wave, after wave," he says.

"What this Delta has brought on is a whole new group of people that don't qualify for assistance because maybe they earn a little too much, but they're struggling."

Some of that assistance starts at the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN), and CEO Gavin Findlay says the need is at an all-time high.

"We see that consistently from Invercargill to Northland."

Between August and October, NZFN sent out 3051.8 tonnes of food to communities in need - a whopping increase of 504 percent on the same period last year.

It includes emergency food purchased as part of the Government's COVID response.

"[Three-thousand tonnes] equates to around 10 million meals," Findlay says.

Gisborne-based food bank SuperGrans Tairawhiti is bracing for a busy few months. especially with Delta banging on the door.

"It's getting bigger, it's extrapolating," says SuperGrans Tairawhiti general manager Linda Coulston.

"Lots have got children at home, mum's sick and can't go to work. You know, there's such a ripple effect with COVID that a lot of people don't really think about."

While many are trying their hardest to make it a little better, Letele says the upcoming holiday period will not be a welcomed time for some.

"Christmas for a lot of families is just going to be absolutely miserable and that's just plain and simple."