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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.
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.