Auckland’s Spark Arena becomes huge foodbank during Coronavirus lockdown
Spark Arena, New Zealand's largest indoor venue, has been transformed into a foodbank to help feed thousands of households going hungry during the country’s Coronavirus lockdown.
Auckland Council has had 3000 requests for help since announcing last week that it would be providing emergency food parcels on behalf of the New Zealand Government.
And while Coronavirus cases start to level out, the number of people needing foodbank assistance is nor relenting.
As reported by Radio New Zealand, Auckland Council has set up the centre at the 12,000-seat arena as it looks to keep up with demands for food requests.
Anyone who is unable to go to the supermarket, or is suffering financial hardship as a result of the lockdown, is eligible for the food parcels, which are being couriered to people's homes.
Around 900 packages were sent out yesterday and staff were on track to distribute another 1500 today.
It is expected that there will be around 5000 parcels sent out a week once demand stabilises.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the transformed Spark Arena was evidence of the unprecedented situation the country was in, telling RNZ “we're all in this crisis together and we certainly don't want to see parents that can't afford to put food on the table for their kids."
The New Zealand Government is covering the cost of the food, while Auckland Council is operating the contact centre to respond to calls and coordinating the supply, packaging and delivery of food.
Commenting on the venue’s change of operations, Spark Arena Managing Director, Stuart Clumpas said staff who had other work through cancelled events had been deployed with the foodbank initiative.
Clumpas advised “a couple of the arenas in Europe have started to be used for makeshift hospitals so we'd already got our heads around the idea that we'd get asked to be a makeshift hospital, and we were already kind of gearing up.
"We didn't quite expect this, but hey, we're really pleased to be part of helping."
Spark Arena has also revealed that Disney on Ice tour, scheduled to arrive at the venue in August, will no longer be taking place in New Zealand this August.
The Feld Entertainment tour has been cancelled due to the expanding restrictions on domestic and international travel, and in accordance with national and government recommendations against large group gatherings.
1st April 2020 - Recreation Aotearoa launches dedicated Coronavirus website
25th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics postponed to 2021
20th March 2020 - ANZ Premiership shutdown marks end of all top-level sport in New Zealand
12th August 2016 - Claudelands celebrates millionth visitor during Disney on Ice
22nd May 2010 - Disney On Ice heads Down Under
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