FoodShare in expansion bid

FoodShare volunteer Kate Springford (left) and driver Desi Liversage unload a van  of donated...
FoodShare volunteer Kate Springford (left) and driver Desi Liversage unload a van of donated goods at FoodShare's depot in a former restaurant. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
An organisation has sprung up in Dunedin over the past two years that is helping feed people in need. Dan Hutchinson looks at the FoodShare phenomenon that is taking food banks to a whole new level.

A fast-growing charity that supplies almost two tonnes of ''rescued'' food to Dunedin social agencies each week says it could expand to other parts of the country if it had the backing.

FoodShare started operations in Dunedin two years ago, collecting food from supermarkets and other food outlets and redistributing it before it goes bad.

Founder and CEO Deborah Manning said the organisation had grown rapidly since then and was in the process of fitting out a new warehouse and chiller facility in the central city.

The food goes to a wide variety of groups such as the Salvation Army and Presbyterian Support for redistribution through their established social agency networks and there was now a waiting list.

''Each week we are picking up somewhere between one and a-half to two tonnes of food,'' Ms Manning said.

FoodShare's focus is on providing fresh food such as vegetables and pre-packaged salads that were nearing the end of their useful life but could be quickly dispatched through its network.

More than 20 food outlets supply goods, including four Countdown supermarkets, Coupland's Bakeries and the Otago Farmers Market.

FoodShare was now seeking funding to take the programme to a national level, Ms Manning said.

''It will reach into every town and city in the whole of New Zealand and we are just simply constrained by the fact that we don't have the funding to do it.''

Countdown spokeswoman Kate Porter said the company had a national food rescue programme, distributing packaged items through the Salvation Army from 140 of its supermarkets nationwide.

Fresh food distribution was difficult, but Countdown was happy to supply highly organised groups such as FoodShare in Dunedin, Kaibosh in Wellington, Fair Food in Auckland and 0800hungry in Christchurch, she said.

''Everyone has concerns about food waste, but actually the logistics and the food safety that is involved is way more complicated than people think,'' Miss Porter said.

Some cities were well covered when it came to fresh food salvage, but if there was a need in other parts of the country then ''by all means fill it'', she said.

''If we can't sell it then it is important to us and it is a wonderful thing that it can have a second life being able to benefit people in need.''

Presbyterian Support director Lisa Wells said the FoodShare project had given about 27,000 items of food to her organisation over the past two years.

The demand for food parcels was increasing, and the extra food had made a huge difference to the amount and type of items they were able to offer those in need, Mrs Wells said.

''The food we get from FoodShare really complements the canned foods and other items we were already supplying from our Family Works service,'' she said.


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