The past year has seen significant and exciting changes within Visionwest’s food support service as we evolved from a pre-packaged food parcel service to a fully functioning social supermarket, self-selection foodbank, and kai warehouse serving up to 400 whānau every week.
The rapid rise in the cost of living has resulted in a significant change in demographic using the food support service. Whānau from all walks of life, including those in fulltime employment, now find themselves in need of food and other support services with many of those facing food insecurity never previously accessing social supports.
Introducing Whai Manaaki Kai
We have been gifted the name Whai Manaaki Kai to encompass the four community offerings that now make up our food support service.
Whai Manaaki Kai now has the equivalent of 6 fulltime staff including a warehouse manager and social supermarket manager – our volunteers remain a vital part of the service.
While the number of food parcels distributed from Pātaka Kai is down on the unprecedented numbers during Covid, it remains significantly greater than pre-Covid numbers.
80% of those requesting food support did so because of issues relating to financial hardship. (9% unplanned cost, 4% flooding and 2% due to health concerns).
18% of Pātaka Kai food parcels are provided to partner organisations for distributing amongst whānau they are supporting.
Our response to food insecurity
Tā mātou whakautu ki te āhuatanga kai pōharatanga
Whānau received food support
Parcels Provided through Pātaka Kai
*This figure represents the number of unique whānau receiving food support irrespective of the number of visits.
In 2013, when she was feeling out of control with her finances, Tee took what was an enormous step for her; she reached out for help. Now she’s part of the Visionwest family and a Whai Manaaki Kai regular.
Thursday 8 June 2023 heralded a new day for our food support service with the official opening of Manaaki Kai, Visionwest’s social supermarket – the first of its kind in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Opening five days a week and run with support from Foodstuffs North Island, Manaaki Kai is achieving its aim of providing food support in a way that preserves dignity and mana. Shoppers at Manaaki Kai select food from the shelves in the same way they would in a conventional supermarket. This enables whānau to choose the kai they need rather than receiving a food parcel of prepacked items. The shelves contain close to 600 product items – including food, cleaning, and hygiene products.
A highlight of the opening event was an interview with Jean Abraham (Nana Jean). 31 years ago, Nana Jean began the Visionwest foodbank out of a cupboard at Glen Eden Baptist Church (GEBC) and has seen it grow to all that Whai Manaaki Kai is today. “Mindboggling,” is the word she used to describe her first walk along the supermarket aisles.
Because Manaaki Kai will not immediately have the capacity to meet the needs of all who come to Visionwest for food support, the Pātaka Kai will still operate providing emergency food parcels to those who require them.
A recent adjustment to the service is that a degree of self-selection is now possible with whānau being able to swap-out what is in their parcel from a small selection on the Pātaka Kai shelves. Known as the More Choice Model, this positive innovation means whānau can select food they prefer. It also leads to a decrease in food wastage.
For Pātaka Kai’s response to the Auckland flooding events, full details are in the Visionwest Flood and Cyclone Response, see page 40.
Whata Manaaki is our goods and stock warehouse. Opened on 10 November 2022, it is the engine room behind Whai Manaaki Kai. It is at Whata Manaaki that we receive, store, and prepare kai for both Manaaki Kai and Pātaka Kai, and distribute bulk food to other food support organisations throughout West Auckland.
The move from the garage in Glendale Road to a warehouse complete with large fridge and freezer units and a forklift has resulted in a huge leap in the efficiency and effectiveness of the food support service we provide to our community, as well as providing a positive working environment for staff. It also put Whai Manaaki Kai in a strong position to respond to community needs following the 2023 weather events.
On 7 June 2023, Te Kapu, the free weekly community lunch run by GEBC and Visionwest, celebrated its first year of operation. Every Wednesday the local community is invited to enjoy this free meal. Te Kapu is a place of connection and aroha and, for many, where their journey with Visionwest begins.