21 Apr 2020

Thirteen-year old Rebecca’s mum has pneumonia and can’t work. Rebecca herself was not well when the whole country went into Alert Level 4 a few weeks ago. With no transport to get to the supermarket and limited funds for food, Rebecca’s mum was desperate.

Rebecca’s school advised Variety – the Children’s Charity of the family’s situation and the charity responded by having a food and grocery pack delivered to the family.

In the same week, Variety received a call from a grandmother who had just found out she’d lost her job due to the fall-out from Covid-19. Her daughter passed away recently, and she has been left caring for her grieving grandchildren. Even before this crisis she was struggling to provide food for them, but now without a job, her situation is desperate.

Variety’s National Programme Manager Emma Bolwell explained that these families are only two of many cases that speak of how already-struggling families are further brought to their knees by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a charity that has always been about providing flexible and targeted support to  disadvantaged tamariki, our response to Covid-19  is focused on supporting whānau in ways that meet their immediate needs and for so many right now, that means food,” Ms Bolwell said.

Variety immediately worked on gaining essential service status from the Ministry of Social Development, enabling the organisation to pick up essential tasks that had to be temporarily downscaled when the lockdown was imposed.

The charity turned to its supporters and launched an emergency appeal to fundraise for grocery cards for families in need. The effort has since raised over NZD 130,000.

“We see that the needs of disadvantaged children will continue even as we come out of lockdown. We have seen parents and caregivers lose their jobs and more families will need our support,” Ms Bolwell said.

Variety also received help from its corporate supporters. Its long-time partner Z Zurich Foundation, Zurich Insurance Group’s charitable foundation, donated a NZD 100,000 emergency grant, funding more than 400 food boxes and close to 200 grocery cards to families of Kiwi kids who have applied for much-needed help.


“The Z Zurich Foundation is providing emergency financial support to its existing charity partners, and to the long-term charity partners of Zurich’s business units globally, to help them survive the short to medium term issues arising from this crisis. In New Zealand, through the Z Zurich Foundation, we are proud to further support Variety who can help deliver much needed support in our communities during these very challenging times,” Sarah Latch, Zurich New Zealand Operations Manager, said.

Fonterra also responded by donating 4,000 individual milk packs to go into the food boxes. Managing Director Fonterra Brands New Zealand Brett Henshaw says we are donating close to one million serves of milk that would usually go to schools through their in schools-programmes.

“We are helping out where we can during these challenging times, and it is good to be able to work with other organizations like Variety to be able to take milk to the heart of the communities,” Mr Henshaw said.

The food boxes are assembled by Eat My Lunch, who in turn is providing two free lunches to Kiwi kids in need for every food box ordered by Variety, thereby scaling up the overall help.

“Variety is grateful to all our individual supporters and community partners such as Z Zurich Foundation, Fonterra and Eat My Lunch, who share our vision to make life better for our disadvantaged Kiwi kids. We cannot do it without them, and it is a very important time for all of us to come together and provide the support needed of us during this difficult period,” Ms Bolwell said.

To support Variety Covid-19 Emergency Appeal for Kiwi kids, please go to