Extra capacity for food rescue

An organisation dedicated to nourishing Queenstown residents and their families has upscaled its operations after setting up a base in a Frankton warehouse.

KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning, of Dunedin, told a gathering at the food rescue service’s Queenstown branch on Wednesday she was rapt to finally officially open the warehouse after Covid-19 restrictions put a stop to earlier attempts.

Ms Manning heaped praise on Sustainable Queenstown co-founder Esther Whitehead for bringing KiwiHarvest to the resort in 2018, which included spending the first nine months doing the food collection herself.

KiwiHarvest had its beginnings nearly a decade ago after Ms Manning read articles in the Otago Daily Times about children going to school hungry and people "dumpster-diving" in Dunedin.

She quit her job as a lawyer and began driving around in her own vehicle to collect excess food from cafes and bakeries and taking it to social service providers.

Now a nationwide network, it provides half a million meal-equivalents a month throughout the country.

Celebrating the official opening of the Queenstown branch of KiwiHarvest are (from left) manager...
Celebrating the official opening of the Queenstown branch of KiwiHarvest are (from left) manager Kayleigh Cord, KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning, branch worker Mel Wright and Sustainable Queenstown co-founder Esther Whitehead. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS

Queenstown branch manager Kayleigh Cord said it had distributed about 400,000 meal-equivalents since it began operating in the resort in 2018.

The warehouse, from which it began operating last October, had a large chiller and freezer, racking for pallets and a new truck.

"Previously, we had a vehicle and one person, which meant everything we rescued on that day had to get out — we had nowhere to keep it," Ms Cord said.

It could now rescue a much larger volume of food, and receive more from the non-profit New Zealand Food Network.

"They deliver pallet-loads of food to us that we can then break down and distribute to the community."

The branch now had two part-time staff and a pool of about 10 volunteers.

It had just started delivering food to Wanaka and Cromwell once a week, with plans to extend its network , she said.

guy.williams@odt.co.nz

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