Two new charitable initiatives have been urgently launched to help thousands of Aucklanders coping with the loss of their homes and food shortages, with many facing poverty for the first time in their lives as a result of COVID-19.

The programme will link those in need with local charities and support services as well as provide access to a zero-waste, budget cooking series to ensure they can provide cost-effective nutrition for their whanau.

More than 5,000 Easy Choice Family Kai booklets will be printed to help those families living in poverty shop for, cook and eat nourishing and affordable food.

Free online video demonstrations hosted by New Zealand Culinary Fare medal-winning chef Steve Weston will show how the recipes can be prepared.

The four seasonal cookbooks contain four weekly meal plans with five dinner recipes. Each recipe is designed to feed a family of six (two adults and four children under 10) or four adults.

The budget for ingredients is set at $60 per week and the books contain grocery lists, imagery and text to explain the different food groups and recommended portion sizes for a healthy diet.

They also come with shopping tips on how to save the most money when making purchases and tricks on how to use broccoli stalks and butterfly a chicken.

Meals include anything from a standard roast chicken to nasi goreng, lentil bolognese and cheese and bacon bread pudding, all designed to help stretch the budget further.

The second initiative developed by the West Auckland Together Collective will see the printing and distribution of 7,000 copies of a homelessness housing and community resources booklet.

Along with emergency housing resources, the booklet lists caravan parks and boarding houses as well as places to find publicly accessible showers and laundry facilities and free wifi at places such as service stations, and free community pantries.

Lynette Adams, Sport Waitakere CEO and spokesperson for the West Auckland Together Collective says during the lockdown the group of community-based organisations was able to mobilise its workforce working in partnership to support the community.

“In a climate of constrained resources, working together to help communities harness the power of collective impact is a highly effective approach. The collective invites sectors to work in partnership towards a shared goal, whilst bringing sustainable change to the people of West Auckland.”

Adams says as part of the collective’s COVID response, organisations worked together to coordinate and support initiatives underway through its partners including; food and hygiene parcel delivery through to ideas on how to keep whanau active during lockdown.

“While supporting West Auckland Together partners to deliver these initiatives we recognised the value Easy Choice could bring to support whanau through affordable and healthy meal planning,” she says.

“Whanau across Aotearoa are facing financial hardship. Easy Choice is a free tool which can help ease some of that pressure when it comes to meal time,” says Adams.

Weston says all of the recipes are nutritionally balanced with healthy ingredients including vegetables, beans and whole grains.

“The recipes are wholesome and hearty with no fuss required to bring a good quality meal to the family table. Some of the recipes are particularly generous which means there are leftovers which can be frozen or used for lunch the next day,” he says.

Allan Pollard CEO of The Trusts who have funded the initiatives says there is a rapidly growing community need for better information and resources to support those financially hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Every day we are hearing more and more about the scale of business closures and redundancies in the media,

“At a community level, this is manifesting as increased demand for support services, particularly around the basic needs for shelter and food.

“We are immensely grateful to have the opportunity to help the organisations on the frontline supporting those who simply don’t have anywhere else to turn for help,” he says.

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