Coronavirus: 'It's so sad' - Auckland City Mission says people who have never needed assistance reaching out for food grants

Despite New Zealand being out of lockdown there has been a dramatic rise in people needing assistance to put food on their tables - people who normally wouldn't require financial help.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly says people have been living week to week or day to day and still not able to manage their financial situation.

But post-lockdown, he said there's now a new group of vulnerable people.

"Income has not met requirements in a household for all sorts of reasons - the cost of housing being one, cost of paying loan sharks, [and the] cost of meeting emergency needs," he told the Epidemic Response Committee on Thursday.

"Now, what's happened is - there's this new group of vulnerable [people] who have moved into that space.

"Many of them, they're low income people. They're people who are absolutely struggling just week by week but they had a job - they had a job in a laundry, they had a job cleaning an aeroplane, they had some labour position that's gone.

"There will be, without a doubt, a new wave of immense poverty in this country in many areas."

Farrelly said five people from the mission have been answering calls from people needing food grants for the past five weeks.

"It's so sad - [it's] people who in their life have never had to put their hand out or reach out for assistance.

"Food is a fundamental human right. We're fortunate to have the food in this country - we have it here.

"We've just got to make sure that our systems are in place to ensure that the food that we have can go to the right people in the right place at the right time."

Some of those people needing help have been reaching out with "great shame", Farrelly said.

"Fortunately there is a response happening. Fortunately we can do this [help].

"In Auckland, the council has a huge food distribution centre operating.

"The question is, what do we do in the months ahead?"

Currently, the Government is giving out nearly 70,000 food grants per week. Earlier this month, Ricardo Menéndez March from Auckland Action Against Poverty told The Hui even before the COVID-19 crisis, a lot of people were not getting sufficient food grants.

There are also fears the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic could put half-a-billion people into poverty worldwide, erasing decades' worth of progress.