“We started with a small team of volunteers using their own cars to collect food that was good enough to eat, but not to sell, and distribute it via food banks and social service agencies to vulnerable people in the community.
“The initiative grew exponentially, but I knew we could do so much more. Today, I’m delighted to say that we’re delivering on our original vision. We changed our name to KiwiHarvest and expanded operations into Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Queenstown. To date we’ve delivered the equivalent of 11 million meals to families in need. “There are now food rescues in all major cities and towns throughout the country, and (in light of COVID-19) they’re working harder than ever and alongside iwi and other relevant charities to address the growing food security needs of more than half a million Kiwis. This figure is, sadly, expected to rise to 1.25 million as the impact of the pandemic continues to unfold.
“Thanks to the generosity of businesses regularly donating large volumes of food, we’re just keeping up with demand. What was missing to streamline the concept was an efficient solution that could connect this bulk supply with increasing demand.
“This need has prompted a new venture – the New Zealand Food Network – to provide that connectivity, enabling the sharing of bulk surplus and donated healthy food at even greater scale. Major producers, growers, wholesalers and pack houses will provide pallets or bins of bulk surplus or donated food to the network’s distribution centres. That food will then be made available to community organisations based on supply, levels of deprivation or food insecurity in the communities they serve, and handling capacity.
“It’s a nationwide effort, spanning the private, social and Government sectors – and one I’m immensely proud of. I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds, and the positive strides we’re making to reduce food waste to landfill and provide nutritional support for Kiwis in need.
“At a personal level, there were several things I took away from lockdown. Firstly, the critical importance of fostering digital literacy in our communities and empowering people to communicate and engage with one another in a safe and considerate manner. I was also struck by how incredibly strong and resilient people are and that when we’re working together, we can make huge strides towards a kinder and more sustainable world.”
Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Autumn 2020 issue