Illustration of a family with a basket of food.

Food Secure Communities

Current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 guidance

Access to food and other support

Information about access to food and essential items can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website:

Information for people that need help, support or advice is also on the Unite against COVID-19 website:

Guidance for community food providers

During the current Alert Level 4, the Ministry of Social Development are leading the response to support community providers who are distributing food in the community.

Our focus is on supporting community providers who are distributing food to people and whānau who have an urgent need for food that they are unable to afford.

There is generally a comprehensive network of providers across New Zealand, which means establishment of new services are unlikely to be funded unless any clear gaps are identified.

Civil Defence are responsible for supporting people and whānau who can afford to purchase food but are unable to access it.

Operations as Alert Levels change

Under the new COVID-19 Public Health Response Act, community food providers can continue to operate at Alert Level 4.

Category 1: Where the social service is the only way for people accessing food and other goods they need to survive (e.g. money management (but not budget advice), food banks, and other delivery of essential goods)

Guidance on Safe operations as Alert Levels change

Our guidance on safe operations for community food providers as COVID-19 Alert Levels change change is essential reading. Our expectation is that you will be following this guidance.

Access to food and other support

Most existing Food Secure Communities providers should be well-placed to meet any short-term increased demand due to funding received from the Community Food Response Grant Fund. If you have not sent in your reporting and invoice that was due on 10 July 2021, we encourage you to send this as soon as possible to foodsecure@msd.govt.nz.

We are also working with the New Zealand Food Network to increase the food stocks available to community providers through their food hubs. This is taking time, due to the need to purchase food from suppliers, pack and deliver the food around the country. As a result, we are prioritising where need is greatest.

If you are requiring additional food stocks, please contact the following who may be able to help:

If any further help is required or you have any other queries, please contact us on foodsecure@msd.govt.nz.

Supporting whānau who need food

In order that communities know how to access food and other essential items, please distribute this PDF widely.

Supporting whānau with food where affordability is the issue

Work and Income

Community food providers are encouraged to refer whānau in the first instance (where eligible and appropriate) to Work and Income for hardship grants for food.

In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Work and Income has made a temporary change to payment cards for clients who need assistance with food and can’t get to the supermarket themselves (e.g., if they’re required to self-isolate). The details include:

  • If the client already has a payment card but can’t make it to a supermarket, they can ask a friend, family member or temporary agent to pick up the payment card the client already has and buy food items on their behalf.
  • The client needs to follow public health guidance (i.e., contactless delivery) when the third party picks up their payment card.
  • Clients can call Work and Income (0800 559 009) to talk through their situation.

Family Services Directory

The Government is using the Family Services Directory in the first instance to ensure people know how to access services.

If you are an MSD-funded foodbank or other community food service please make sure your food service is listed on the Family Services Directory and up to date, so that people can access your services.

If you need to change your operational status or any other information in your listing under the COVID levels please email updates@familyservices.govt.nz with the required change and they will update your information on the Directory.

Supporting whānau with food where access is the issue

Where whānau can afford food but are unable to access it, discuss their support networks like family, whānau, friends, and neighbours to see if they could deliver food and other essential items.

Ask about food delivery options such as supermarket home delivery, food boxes, frozen pre-prepared meals, subscription food boxes (like My Food Bag and Hello Fresh) or any other whole-food delivery service.

The Student Volunteer Army's SVA Grocery Delivery Service is available for those in self-isolation or who have no other way to access food. The service is up and running in Auckland, and will be nationwide from Thursday 26 August. Visit www.shop.sva.org.nz for more information.

If whānau can’t access support through any of the options above, contact your local Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group.

Go to: http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/find-your-civil-defence-group/

Contacting us

If any further help is required or you have any other queries, please contact us on foodsecure@msd.govt.nz, or contact your Food Secure Communities relationship manager directly.

Supporting communities to become food secure while addressing additional demand on foodbanks, food rescue and other community food services

The Ministry is investing $32 million over two years to provide support for foodbanks, food rescue and other community organisations who are distributing food to vulnerable people and whanau.

Demand for food has significantly increased for foodbanks since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented. Increased levels of unemployment and economic hardship has increased food insecurity.

MSD is investing in foodbanks and other community food organisations to ensure they can meet the increased demand for food from people, families and whānau in their community over the next two years.

Communities are being supported to work collaboratively on plans and projects which increase the availability of low-cost and nutritious kai for vulnerable whanau.

Creating a system to better manage future shocks

The Food Secure Communities funding will provide an additional 21 million meals per annum through foodbanks and other organisations at a cost of 71c per meal. This will result in approximately 6,200 tonnes less food going to landfill, and 2,238 tonnes less CO2 emissions.

This will reduce pressure on New Zealand’s food supply chains and benefit the environment. Foodbanks and other organisations will be better placed to manage future shocks and provide greater food security for vulnerable New Zealanders.

Support for foodbanks, food rescue and other community food services

The Food Secure Communities (FSC) Implementation Fund:

FSC Implementation Fund:

Funding for communities to implement or scale up sustainable initiatives which will increase access to affordable and healthy kai within low-income communities and/or enable Māori to exercise tino rangatiratanga over food systems that feed and nourish whānau. In doing so, this helps reduce the dependency on foodbanks and food hardship grants.

This funding round closed on 25 July 2021 and applications are currently being assessed.

UPDATE: Due to the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4, application assessment processes have paused. We are unlikely to meet the mid-September deadline for letting providers know about the outcome of their application as this stage.

The Ministry has invested in community food providers through three funding rounds:

Community Food Transition Grants

Transitional funding to support increased demand for emergency food during the transition between Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups standing down and MSD implementing the two-year Community Food Response Funding. This has now closed, and 135 providers have received funding.

The following community providers were successful in their application for Community Food Transition Grant Funding:

The following outcomes were achieved under the Community Food Transition Grant Fund:

Community Food Response Funding

Funding to contribute towards your costs for up to two years, while participating in building a Food Secure Community. This has now closed, with 131 providers successful in their applications.

The following community providers were successful in their application for Community Food Response Funding:

Food Secure Communities Grants

Funding to develop and implement a plan for a Food Secure Community. This has now closed with 49 providers successful in their applications.

The following community providers were successful in their application for Food Secure Communities Grant Funding:

Support from national partner organisations

The Ministry is also funding three national partner organisations to build sector capacity and capability for the sector, and to increase the supply of high-quality surplus food available to foodbanks and community food services:

1. New Zealand Food Network

New Zealand Food Network is working to increase the supply of food to community food services by distributing bulk surplus and donated food from food producers, growers and wholesalers through to food hubs around New Zealand on an ‘as required’ basis. These food hubs will then distribute the food onto foodbanks and other community food services.

Food hubs are entities (eg food rescue organisations, iwi, other community organisations) who have the capability of accepting and handling pallets of ambient, chilled and frozen food and other product, and who can distribute that product to a wide range of community groups. As food supplies increase over time, the New Zealand Food Network will increase the number of food hubs to around 70 to 75 food hubs.

2. Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective

Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective support community food organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand to enable food to be distributed in mana enhancing ways and to strive for community led food secure communities, AND are committed to the slower, deeper work of addressing poverty-related hunger’s root causes – and all the systems that contribute to it.

3. The Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance

The Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance provides national support for local food rescue organisations to reduce food waste and increase food security through capacity building, encouraging good practice, enhancing collaboration and advocating for their best interests.

Other important information

Making referrals to Work and Income

Foodbanks and other community food services are encouraged to refer whānau in the first instance (where eligible and appropriate) to Work and Income for hardship grants for food.

COVID-19 operating guidance

Guidance for foodbanks, food rescue and other community food service providers to follow as COVID-19 Alert Levels change is available.

Family Services Directory

If you need a foodbank or other food assistance in your area, search on the Family services directory website.

If you are an MSD-funded foodbank or community food service please make sure your food service is listed on the Family services directory and up to date, so that people can access your services.

Just Kai? Webinar Conversations about Community Kai

MSD’s Food Secure Communities and Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective invite you to join us for a webinars series about community kai, brought to you every two months. This webinar series aims to assist community food organisations as we work together to create a Food Secure Aotearoa. It will be a space for sharing stories about inspiring mahi across Aotearoa, with an opportunity for Q+A.

Keep in touch

If you would like to contact us with any queries or subscribe to receive updates from us in the future, we are on:

foodsecure@msd.govt.nz