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Porirua’s first social supermarket brings respite to community

Paridhi Bakshi

Helmut Modlik says social supermarkets are like mopping up a leak from the laundry, dealing with the symptoms of the underlying problem of unaffordable food pricing.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Te Runanga O Toa Rangatira and Foodstuffs have joined forces to lift the heavy weight of grocery prices from families by opening its first social supermarket in Porirua.

Te Umu ki Rangituhi social supermarket is providing essential goods at low to no cost.

The introduction of social supermarkets is a similar concept to food banks where people who experience food poverty can get access to kai without losing their mana.

Social supermarkets give families relief from the cost of living crisis by making it possible to put food on their table.

Members of one family from Porirua, who want to stay anonymous, got their wish granted - help with school lunches.

“For my whanau, our main barrier was needing school lunches for our five tamariki who attend school and kindergarten.

Addressing food poverty

“Having to spend $48 for a trolley load instead of $300 was amazing and this helped towards our budget for the week. We had extra money left.” the woman says.

She says the family is grateful for the service and says the staff who are not judgmental in feeding her large whanau.

Te Runanga O Toa Rangatira chief executive Helmet Modlik says Te Umu ki Rangituhi aims to create an environment and safe space to support whānau needing access to kai.

“This supermarket is part of a wider vision the rūnanga has to address issues such as food poverty.”

He says the door to a wide range of support services Ngati Toa provides is a key observation so, if they are hungry, that’s the first place to be.

Modlik says social supermarkets are like mopping up aleak from the laundry, dealing with the symptoms of the underlying problem of unaffordable food pricing.

‘Enormous need’

The runanga’s social services general manager Steve Johnson says the runanga has been running an emergency food response for several years in Porirua delivering 160 to 190 food boxes to families “so there has been an enormous need”.

The Foodstuffs co-operative, which owns Pak’nSave, New World, Four Square supermarkets, is collaborating with Te Runanga O Toa Rangatira to combat the food poverty crisis.

Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin said: “We’ve committed to be here for New Zealand and one of the best ways we’ve found to support New Zealanders who can’t participate in retail for some time is to partner with local community organisations who are having a meaningful, long-term impact on their communities.”

Te Runanga O Toa Rangatira is not only working on eradicating food insecurity but is also partnering with the Ministry of Social Development to boost employment opportunities.

Solutions for housing, training, social services and mental health are a part of the services that address the underlying causes of food poverty and promote overall well-being.

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