Israel Dagg joins campaign to fight poverty, distribute food kits

Former Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg is stepping up to help tackle poverty in Canterbury.

The World Cup and Super Rugby title winner has teamed up with Tall Black Tom Abercrombie for an international campaign that will see more than 16,000 food kits distributed to some of the country’s most vulnerable families.

Dagg and Abercrombie have already committed about 14,000 Mexican meal kits to Foodbank Canterbury - and the pair are encouraging people to share their challenges on Instagram to donate more.

The Old El Paso Mess Free Challenge to help fight food insecurity is being led by Australian basketball-loving tennis star Nick Kyrgios.

"I had a really humble beginning and so I know what a struggle it can be for families to just be able to put food on the table," Dagg, who lives in Christchurch, said.

"As we get into winter, money needs to be spent on warm clothes, heating and power bills, sometimes that means there’s less food in the house.

"I am excited to take part in the Mess Free Challenge, which goes beyond just highlighting the need in our community, but gives Kiwis the chance to do something about it, with every share resulting in more food kits donated,” he said.

The campaign has the backing of some global sporting names, including French basketballer and ex-San Antonio Spurs NBA star Tony Parker, as well as French forward-centre Sandrine Gruda and Spanish basketball star Marta Xarga.

Abercrombie decided to bring the challenge to New Zealand and team up with Dagg. The dad of three says he can’t imagine the pain of struggling to put food on the table for his family.

"I’m honoured to be part of a global campaign, which is not just shining the spotlight on food inequity, but instead taking an active role in trying to address it in a unique way by uniting sports players and fans alike."

"This campaign really gives New Zealanders the chance to take an active role in meeting the needs of our more vulnerable families.

"It's a simple, fun and engaging promotion which means it should be easy for us all ages to get behind,” Abercrombie said.

When it came to nominating someone of his own Abercrombie says instead of the basketball court, he’s gone a bit left field and challenged rugby star Israel Dagg.

"I know he’s great with a rugby ball, but I wanted to see what he could do with a basketball. It can’t be a real challenge if it's too easy!” he says.

Dr John Milligan (left) said Foodbank Canterbury assists with the provision of almost 10,000...
Dr John Milligan (left) said Foodbank Canterbury assists with the provision of almost 10,000 meals daily for those at risk and in need. Photo: Martin Hunter
Dr John Milligan, chief executive of Foodbank Canterbury, said the charity assists with almost 10,000 meals a day for at risk and in need people.

The service aids more than 120 charities in Christchurch and Timaru and via its Mobile Food Hub.

"In addition, we operate a Hunger Action Teams (HATs) programme, where volunteer teams pack family care packages each week. These packs contain the staple foods, care products, recipes sheets plus a few ‘extras’ and we are excited to be including the Old El Paso kits.”

"The packs are handed out unconditionally from five local distribution centres, we also supply the HATs packs through our Plunket outlets. This programme was launched as an innovative solution during the pandemic to plug in a hole in need fulfilment,” he says.

Milligan said there is still significant need and believes the programme could grow “fourfold”









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