National | Food Banks

Long Covid symptoms for food support, survey finds

The New Zealand Food Network says the demand for food support continues to skyrocket as a result of the long-lasting impacts of Covid-19 and the ever-increasing cost of living.

The network had surveyed 43 of its food hubs, food rescue organisations, foodbanks and charities about the state of their communities.

Chief executive Gavin Findlay says the survey was to see how big the level of support from NZ Food Network was from food hubs.

“We were trying to understand, from our perspective, what we can do to support and help,” Findlay says.

Results of the survey showed that low-paying jobs (79%), unemployment (70%) and Covid-19 isolation (60%) were the top three reasons for requesting food support between January and June this year.

Covid continues to affect whānau and their kai.

“Senior citizens and those with sickness and disabilities were very badly affected as were those with unemployment and lower incomes. At those levels, people were actually struggling to put food on the table for themselves.

“It’s countrywide, not anywhere specific.”

Findlay expects the long tail of the Covid disruptions will see food support still needed for the next 18 months.

NZFN was created during the pandemic’s worst times for food support needs, with the Ministry of Social Development supporting and funding the initiative.

One food hub recipient, Te Rūnanga o Te Whānau, provides food support for whānau on the east coast. But things are getting worse there, Findlay says.

“We would have thought that transitioning out of Covid would translate to people’s lives being a lot better – it’s just not the case, certainly around the more remote communities.

"Getting support and help to them, we really, really do rely on those organisations to have a feel for what the local community is needing. We’re just, hopefully, helping them to make life a bit more easier for whānau.”