Community pantry plea: Keep giving over Summer
Organisers of free community pantries in Onehunga say they are well-used, but the community needs to keep an eye on them over the summer break.
Pātaka Kai free pantry coordinator, Candice Luke, says that in the lead-up to Christmas, people are especially generous. “Last year, the ones who could provide support went all out. We had most of our pantries getting stocked every day, by people actually purchasing items to put in the pantry. It’s really awesome.” But Candice says straight after Christmas it went dead. “They were empty until about March. So, a long time.”
She encourages people to think ahead and keep the Christmas spirit going for a little longer. “What I would recommend for the period of January and February, is that’s where you would want to push your giving. If people could commit to longer-term donations, maybe buying a couple of extra cans of food at your weekly shop and dropping it off to your local, or something like, once a month making a donation.”
Currently in Onehunga there are two community pantries, Pātaka Kai on Arthur street outside Onehunga Primary School, and the Free Little Pantry on Brookfield Ave. The pantries are open 24/7 for people to take what they need and leave what they can.
Onehunga Primary School principal Viki Holley agrees that summer is a challenge. “It needs community members to keep it stocked. Hopefully gardens will soon start to produce extra so people will have items to add.”
Julie Carter who oversees the Little Free Pantry on Brookfield Ave says that non-perishable donations also work well over the summer period. “Not just food; soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo. That supports people as well. That’s popular.” Julie urges people who live close by to keep an eye on the pantry. “It is a bit harder over holidays when people are away. But people still get hungry.”