Hutt City Council’s Emergency Operation Centre has worked alongside more than a dozen local organisations during the pandemic to provide support including food, essential household items and accommodation.
Thousands of food parcels and meals have been delivered across the city. Mayor Barry attended a zoom meeting with a number of emergency food providers this week, to hear about their experiences in the last 8 weeks, as well as their thoughts on the time ahead.
"I want to thank our local runanga and marae, our foodbanks, social agencies and faith, cultural and community groups who do great work every day to support our people. During the Pandemic, access to food was a problem for a lot of people and many organisations scaled up to meet the increased demand. They’ve been life-savers for many people."
"That job’s not over yet. Life is starting to return to normal for many, but for some in our community the Pandemic has taken a bigger toll and we need to make sure that support is still there for those who need it."
Mayor Barry is urging the wider community to get behind this effort in any way they can. He says that could be through donating food or money to any of the organisations doing this work, or by giving time as a volunteer.
"During the Pandemic there’s been a big focus on taking care of the people who live around us and as a result many people have made new connections or forged stronger bonds with their neighbours. It would be a great legacy if this experience makes us better at looking after our own - community looking after community."
To help meet demand, Council’s Treadwell Street Hall has been turned into a temporary base for Lower Hutt Foodbank and the Salvation Army to pack and store food. Kokiri Marae has been operating its food delivery services out of Wainuiomata Memorial Hall during the lockdown and will move to a new location at 33 Wise Street (St Peters Church) so they can continue to meet the need.
Mayor Barry says while there is an urgent short term need, we now also have the opportunity to think about the bigger picture and how we can all work together to build a more sustainable food system for Lower Hutt. He says central government has signalled its support for this through its budget announcement of support for a new bulk food distribution network and for food banks and other food providers.
"This crisis has brought us together to support our community, and our collective experience in meeting the immediate needs has highlighted that we need to build a more resilient local food system. We will continue to work together and empower our community groups to support residents who are going through tough and challenging times."
Can you help?
To see a list of groups continuing to support the community during the COVID 19 response.
To volunteer please register your interest with Volunteer Hutt by either contacting them directly on 04 5666 786 or through the Volunteer Wellington website
To donate money or food contact the groups directly drop food off at any of the regular donation bins, or to any HCC facility.