National | Dave Letele - Brown Buttabean

‘Why steal free stuff?’ – foodbank organiser

Hinewai Netana-Williams is a Te Rito Journalism cadet

Community champion David Letele was flabbergasted today after thieves broke into his South Auckland foodbank, which gives out free food parcels, and stole most of the food.

“It’s not even the fact that they’ve taken stuff, it’s where they’re taken it from,” Letele says.

The BBM founder says he can’t comprehend the logic behind the theft as all the food parcels that the food bank hands out are all free.

He was alerted by the foodbank’s alarm monitor service at 3:30 pm yesterday.

Letele assumed it was just birds who had made a pass into the building.

But that assumption was quickly overturned when a team member arrived with the unexpected news that it had been broken into.

David Letele still doesn't believe how it could have happened.

Freezers cleaned out

“I honestly thought this would never happen.”.

When the BBM team members investigated, they found all the freezers completely cleaned out of food products, including frozen chickens, frozen mince, butter, cheese, fruit and vegetables.

“All of our frozen meat was taken, and our core room with all of our dairy produce was gone”.

With Stats NZ reporting 13.6% of children in Aotearoa suffer in poverty-stricken homes, Letele says this incident will only affect those in need.

“We give free food, we are here for people that are struggling, people who’re in poverty.”

Letele worries how people will manage as things get tougher, with the cost-of-living crisis and poverty.

 Poverty on the rise

“I don’t care what anyone says, how they’re talking about it decreasing. It’s not!”

Letele calls for an increase in awareness as food banks have now been marked as "targets". He says the local community would be severely impacted if smaller groupings like his were to close down.

“I encourage people if they’re going through a tough time, and maybe these people are watching this and they come into tough times and they go through some desperation again, just come and ask us.

“You know, people apply online for all this type of stuff, and people get referred from MSD, you go through that proper process but, if you just turn up here, we will never turn you away.”

He says the community’s swift response and $24,000 in donations made today will make it easier to replenish the donated stock that was stolen.