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Alexandra’s two foodbanks will become one officially on Monday.

Representatives from the Salvation Army’s Foodbank and the Alexandra Community Pantry Foodbank have completed a memorandum of understanding and they unofficially began to work together last month.

The agreement ensures each retains its own identity but they operate under the combined churches’ umbrella.

Both foodbanks have moved to a site at the Salvation Army’s premises and volunteers from both package food parcels from there.

Corps Officer Captain Logan Bathurst, of Alexandra, said he and Community Pantry chairwoman Vicki McLean, had been discussing the merger for about a year because it was more practical to combine resources and volunteers, rather than have two separate services.

“It made sense on so many different levels, and it was always something we wanted to do to bring everything together,” Capt Bathurst said.

Mrs McLean said the merger would also make it easier for their supporters because having two foodbanks had been confusing for some people.

“We are bringing it together under one umbrella, with all the resources under one roof,” Mrs McLean said.

She said the Community Pantry had representatives from the churches as members and supported the various agencies at Community House.

The Salvation Army service provided 360 food parcels last year while the Pantry provided 170.

Capt Bathurst said there was a real need and a mix of clients – “people from all walks of life – families and singles”.

“Some are temporary and other people [who receive food parcels] have lots to work through and are longer term.”

Mrs McLean said the foodbanks provided food parcels for those who had been referred to them by the various social agencies and who were assessed considering family, individual or emergency needs.

She said the foodbanks were well supported by Alexandra individuals and businesses.

In addition to dried and tinned food, they supplied nappies and some pet food.

“However, perishables like dairy and meat are the hardest things for us to get.

“The community and businesses in Alexandra are very generous and the churches give a lot of food as well.”

The official opening will be on Monday, from 10am, starting with a karakia followed by cups of tea.

Capt Bathurst said the weeks before Christmas and winter were the busiest times for the foodbanks.

YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz