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Foodbanks, Food Rescue and Community Food Services

Providing food an essential social service

On 29 March 2020, the decision was made that all foodbanks and food rescue organisations are automatically on the Essential Social Services List and don’t need to apply separately, to be given this status.

Please let us know if your foodbank, food rescue or community food service is operating during COVID-19 Alert Level 4 by emailing Community_Information@msd.govt.nz.

When we receive the confirmation that you are operating through the COVID-19 response, we will add you to the register of essential services so that you receive the same information and support from us as other essential services and so that people can find your service if they need to.


Guidance and information on safety

Those providing essential services are expected to do so in keeping with COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions. That means protecting the health and safety of the people you work with and operating in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Foodbanks, food rescue and other community food services must operate a one person in, one person out rule.

Further information about the restrictions that apply to those providing essential services is on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups support for foodbanks

Help for people who can't get essential supplies

People who have an urgent need for essential supplies, like food or medicine, and can’t go out to get it for themselves, can contact their local Civil Defence Emergency (CDEM) Group for help.

This is for people who have no other options available.

CDEM Group support for foodbanks

The CDEM Group in your region, comprising the local authorities and Regional Council along with supporting agencies, will be working with foodbanks and other organisations to make sure that those in need are able to access food (and other household goods, services, and essential items, including pet food for companion animals).

Recent changes to the Guide to the National CDEM Plan enables Local Authorities to recover from Government the welfare costs they incur when supporting people required to self-isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are aware that many foodbanks are running out of stock and need additional funding to purchase more. As foodbanks are supplying those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CDEM Groups are able to request and approve your foodbank to purchase food to reasonably replenish your stocks and to reimburse you for those costs.

Based on advice from the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), we currently discourage foodbanks from approaching supermarkets or purchasing bulk supplies from supermarket shelves. This is because supermarket supplies and staff are under extreme pressure due to the strain caused by excessive purchasing demand and impacts of the Alert Level 4 measures on staff and operations.

The NCMC instead recommends that foodbanks approach bulk food providers, manufacturers, and producers, as these supply chains are more robust then retail suppliers (supermarkets). Some suggested options are Gilmours, Moore Wilsons, Trents, and Bidfoods.

Note: we have also had requests for non-food restocking costs, and for support to food rescue organisations. Decisions about these are still being made. If you have any urgent needs in this area that your CDEM Group is unable to meet, please contact community_information@msd.govt.nz.

CDEM Group Welfare contacts

Your CDEM Group should be proactive in contacting you as partners in ensuring that people with essential needs get the assistance they need. However, if you’d like to make contact you can reach them via your existing CDEM Group Welfare contact (if you have one) or through the following numbers (note that you’ll need to request that they connect you to the CDEM Group Emergency Coordination Centre).

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