Outgoing Federated Farmers national board member Chris Lewis took out the Primary Industry Champion award in Auckland last night.
The Federated Farmers ‘Farmers Feed Families’ campaign is in its last week: to date $37,000 has been raised for the Auckland City Mission.
The farmer lobby is pushing on to get to the $100,000 target.
Feds Gisborne president Toby Williams, who came up with the campaign, says the struggle is real for families as a result of Covid fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.
‘Farmers Feed Families’ encourages farmers and growers to consider giving a wee bit to the cause via a Givealittle page which links directly to the Auckland mission.
"We can do this and I ask farmers and growers to dig deep this week," Williams says.
It costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals.
"The ongoing impact of three months of lockdowns has reduced the ability of too many families to provide the necessities of life, and especially to get through Christmas. We want to do something about it," he says.
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the organisation is pleased to actively support the Mission’s Zero Hunger initiative.
"Sometimes Feds does things that are not about politics or regulations. We just want to feed families, especially when times are tough. ‘Farmers Feed Families’ - that’s what we do.
"We often talk of how we can make connections between farmers and urban communities, well here’s one way."
Auckland City Mission was chosen as the recipient because it is able to get to those who need the support most - and fast.
Mission chief executive Helen Robinson says more people have been turning to them for support than ever before during this latest lockdown, and it will be a difficult Christmas for many. In one week alone about 2,000 parcels of food were distributed, which is more than four times the weekly amount prior to Covid.
"Supporting people in Auckland who are facing the greatest need is a very real way farmers can connect with the city where the majority of their produce and meat is consumed," Robinson says.
"Quite simply we cannot offer the level of support we do without the generosity of people. My thanks goes to them all."
The Mission expects to give out around 9,000 Christmas food parcels and tens of thousands of gifts to families who would otherwise go without.