They are the new kid on the block. They don’t wear capes, but they do rescue. Instead of wearing capes they wear purple tee-shirts with Foodbank Aotearoa blazoned across them as their rescue mission is food.
Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand – Canterbury might have only been in Ashburton for a few weeks, but they are already having a huge impact.
They has been operating for seven years in the South Island and recently started in Ashburton. A small staff and half a dozen volunteers visit supermarkets, suppliers and other places and pick up goods that otherwise would be destined for the landfill. The reason the food is going to be disposed of could be as simple as a dent in a tin, a tear in a box or maybe they are near their use by date.
Every day the organisation saves five to six ton of food from being dumped. Originally starting in Christchurch, they expanded to South Canterbury and now, every Tuesday and Thursday, the van arrives in Ashburton to help six local organisations who distribute the food to their clients. Overall, in Canterbury Foodbank Aotearoa is helping nearly one hundred and fifty organisations.
They give food to organisations not individuals, so the organisation can identify other needs and provide a holistic wrap around service.
The organisation is the largest food relief organisation in New Zealand said John Mulligan, CEO of Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand.
He said, “being totally independent of government or faith-based organisations we are able to give and support without judgement.”
They know there is a need in Ashburton and would like to be able to expand their work but to do this they need to find a kind landlord who will either gift, or provide low-cost warehouse space to store a fridge and freezer, with power and a place for goods to be sorted before they are distributed to organisations.
Currently they are operating out of a van.
As the service grows in Mid Canterbury, they will also be looking for a volunteer to help sort and deliver the goods.
Twice a week, organisations in Ashburton feel like it’s Christmas Day as they unpack their goods to find what treats are instore for their clients that day.
Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand operates for two reasons. To provide food and care for those in need or at risk and to address climate change.
“New Zealand is bad at throwing out bread and this is one of the biggest producers of methane gases,” John said.
“While New Zealand has enough food to feed everyone with three nutritious meals a day, this was prior to Cyclone Gabrielle, yet one in four children go to school without either breakfast or dinner everyday.” Foodbank Aotearoa are trying to change this statistic by helping get food to those who need it.