Countdown and The Salvation Army have teamed up for their annual Countdown Food Rescue Christmas Appeal to help the growing number of New Zealanders for whom food is a wish list item this Christmas.

To launch the appeal, all 184 Countdown stores will each donate $500 worth of groceries to their local Salvation Army, contributing $92,000 of groceries to support The Salvation Army’s foodbanks nationally.

Customers can also make a food donation in specially marked trolleys in-store, or via The Foodbank Project online. Last year more than 674 trolleys full of food donated by customers were given to The Salvation Army, helping meet the needs of 17,000 families and individuals who seek help for food assistance at Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s National Secretary for Social Services, Major Pamela Waugh, said a range of factors including the rising cost of living and cost of housing, as well as increased debt levels, contribute to Kiwis being in financial difficulty, particularly during the Christmas period.

“Demand for food parcels peaks during Christmas and it is an incredibly stressful time for those families and individuals struggling to make ends meet year-round, let alone during the festive season. We’re seeing significant increases in demand in regional areas around Otago, Marlborough and Northland, partly as a result of the downturn in the rural economy. We’re also seeing increased demand among working people in areas such as Auckland’s North Shore, West Auckland and parts of South Auckland such as Pukekohe. Demand in Christchurch is also rising again after a period of stability.

“Thousands of New Zealanders come to us at Christmas simply for help to feed their families. While some people have luxury items on their Christmas wish lists, we need to remember the people who are just dreaming of a meal with their family. A food parcel with pantry staples and a few Christmas treats means the world to people in need and brings some joy during the festive season,” said Waugh.

James Walker, Countdown General Manager Corporate Affairs, said the Food Rescue Christmas Appeal is a way for all 184 Countdown supermarkets to help people in need around their local community.

“Our Countdown stores play a big part in the regions and we want to help make Christmas that little bit brighter for people in need.

“Every person should be able to celebrate Christmas, and we are asking New Zealanders who can to add a little extra to their grocery shopping and donate it into the specially-marked trolleys at their local Countdown, or donate online at The Foodbank Project,” said Walker.

Most-needed food items for the Countdown Food Rescue Christmas Appeal:

  • Canned goods e.g. baked beans, spaghetti and tomatoes
  • Toiletries e.g. soap, shampoo, moisturiser and beauty essentials
  • Pasta and rice
  • Sugar, flour and spread
  • Jellies
  • Tinned fruit
  • Baby food
  • Tea, Coffee, Milo
  • Christmas treats e.g. Chocolates, Christmas mince pies, sweet treats

People can donate in store or online at New Zealand’s only online foodbank, The Foodbank Project Since launching in 2015, nearly $400,000 of food and sanitary items have been donated via the site, which is distributed via eight Salvation Army hubs around New Zealand.

The appeal is part of Countdown’s Food Rescue programme that donates around $3.7 million in food each year to food bank partners including The Salvation Army, and a further $2.1 million of food scraps to farmers for their animals annually.