© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

COVID-19 New Zealand: Food for thought

Carmina Blewett
recipe ingredients
Culture and comfort are amongst the numerous factors which play into how and what New Zealands panic-buy  Carmina Blewett

What ends up on the table sheds light on our connection and attitudes to food during crises.

As the country eases into Alert Level 3, still fresh in the minds of New Zealanders is going without takeaways, having limited access to edible luxuries, and finding certain grocery items quickly vanishing.

Food historian, Dr Joanna Cobley, believes our dietary choices during COVID-19 evoke numerous factors of reaction, culture, attitudes, and security.

"It's partly herd mentality, what we're supposed to do, the public messaging that went with it... so you're looking at some really big things about us as individuals - it's patriotic to know how to look after yourselves."

While demand for smaller packages of flour spiked with national baking activity, she says the trend is attributable to cultural comfort.

"It's a basic ingredient - all cultures will have a form of flour, like we all have a form of bread that we make, so flour's a staple food to thicken sauces, or for quick, comforting, filling foods: carbohydrates like scones, pizza bases, bread, and Anzac biscuits..."

For the duration of Level 4 lockdown, Kiwis had been getting back to the basics: home-cooked meals, re-connection, slowing down and no fast food.

"I feel we've re-focused down to the basics, like when you go camping or tramping, the big thing of the day is getting a cup of tea and some food into you, so people have gone down to a daily routine, sharpened up their kitchen skills and probably their care-taking skills," Dr Cobley says.

As the majority of the nation is making cleaner and more mindful dietary decisions, it is something the Salvation Army is supporting with exacerbated financial hardship being felt over the country.


For the duration of Level 4 lockdown, Kiwis had been getting back to the basics: No fast food, home-cooked meals, re-connection and slowing down. Carmina Blewett

Between March 2019 and April 2020, food parcel distribution has increased by 140 per cent in Christchurch.

A small family bundle includes staples such as pasta, tinned goods, vegetables and breakfast items - supplies to create healthier meals.

Assistant Territorial Secretary for Mission, Captain Gerry Walker, says while they endeavour to meet the basic necessities and include additional contributions from corporates where possible, efforts are made to meet more specific requirements.

"We deliver standard parcels, however, if we are told of a particular requirement for food, we do our best to fulfill this need," Captain Walker says. 

Dr Cobley hopes the time spent towards eating and living for well-being will be for the long-term and is optimistic for the future of healthier trends and lifestyle to come from COVID-19 in New Zealand, despite "some tubbies coming out of lockdown".

"You know how to be a human being in your home, and this is where I'm getting excited about a post-COVID-world... the 'youngies', who are learning to be a new human, are going bravely out into this uncharted territory, and it makes me so excited," Dr Cobley says.

For support or to donate to the Salvation Army, follow the provided link https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/ .