As part of Ray White’s Quarterly magazine, they wrote a feature article on food waste and the groups making a change in Auckland.

Aucklanders waste over $600 of food a year which is not only a waste of money, but a waste of the resources required to grow and transport the food too – like water, electricity and human labour! To encourage more people to actively tackle food waste, Auckland Council have developed a programme to support the city’s target of zero waste to landfill by 2040. In 2020, Fair Food was lucky to receive funding to help us rescue more food so we can feed people, not landfills.

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Following the departure of Fair Food’s Executive Director in September this year, a quiet evolution of Fair Food’s leadership took place.

Seeing an opportunity to trial a new leadership model, Fair Food’s Board of Trustees decided to put a Leadership Team in charge: Deborah Mclaughlin – Chief Financial Officer (front), Roschelle Marshall – Head of Marketing, Communications and Fundraising (back) and Tracey Pirini – Head of Operations and Relationships (middle).

Melissa Crawford, Fair Food’s Board Chair said “We could have chosen one person but why have one person when we could utilise the smarts of all three very capable team members”.

With a distributed leadership model in place, Fair Food’s Ngā Kaihautu – Leadership Team currently has māori, pasifika and pākehā representation making strategic decisions, collaboration is essential, and with a new sense of ownership for each of the leaders, it’s brought renewed creativity to Fair Food. For example, a discussion about values with all employees showed that these needed to be refreshed. Fair Food’s values now include manaakitanga, tautua, courage and fun! Grounded in the teams’ shared passion for sustainability, the team is actively working towards reducing Fair Food’s carbon footprint such as changing energy retailers to Ecotricity, and the recent partnership with Future Post to recycle food packaging into fence posts.

Distributed leadership is not a new concept but it is rising in popularity as a means to make faster decisions, improve customer outcomes and share knowledge. Successful businesses like Sharesies – a platform to make investing easy – have a 3EO leadership model, and the Chia Sisters – who jointly own and manage an award-winning healthy drinks company are thriving!

Trialing a new leadership model meant that Fair Food continued to deliver impact and do what we do best (#feedpeoplenotlandfills!) at a time when food insecurity numbers escalated to unprecedented levels. In July 2021, the month before lockdown, Fair Food distributed 125,000 meals to our communities. In September 2021, the number of meals distributed nearly tripled to 334,000 and even now, as we head into the end of the year, the ‘new normal’ is still over double what Fair Food were distributing in July.

In September 2021, the number of meals distributed to families & whānau nearly tripled to 334,000. Fair Food’s experience with this new leadership model has clearly shown that with equality, collaboration and creativity, great outcomes can be achieved!

When our friends at Fair Go asked us about best before dates for old spices, or molasses that was ten years old, we called in our expert – Toni!

Best before date is exactly that! The food is best before that date but still safe to eat after this date, as long as you use your senses. Use by dates are a different story!

Watch our segment on Fair Go where we talk about the difference and give some basic guidelines on best-before dates.

You can also download our guide to rescued food, encouraging people to look, sniff, taste food before you biff it in the bin!

When Countdown Henderson was accidentally set on fire, Fair Food jumped into action to rescue as much food as possible, saving a whole supermarket from being biffed.

Countdown is one of Fair Food’s major food donors, donating surplus food from 15 stores across Auckland. So, when Countdown Henderson in the West City mall fell victim to arson, we jumped into action to help out whichever way we could.

Once the fire and the store were safe, Countdown’s quality assurance team assessed the food to ensure there was no compromise to the safety of the food. And only once this was confirmed, we were able to recover everything that was still safe-to-eat from the store including the bulk storage in the back chillers. Fair Food rescued 30 pallets of frozen and chilled food – including fresh meat, frozen seafood, pizza, fresh pasta, soups, pasta sauces and dips and a further 19 pallets of dairy products including milk, cream, cheese and yoghurt have been saved, along with a total of 16,500 eggs. This was Fair Food’s single biggest rescue!

Thanks to the perseverance of both the Countdown Henderson and Countdown Head Office teams, Fair Food were able to rescue tonnes of surplus food that would have literally been dumped by the insurance company handling the arson claim.

With access to blast freezers and being able to store goods in our purpose-built Hub, we have been able to complement our fresh food with a lot of the fire rescue products such as shelf-stable products and different varieties of protein.

Fair Food works with more than 50 recipients across Auckland, including those for victims of family violence, refugees, mental health agencies, teen parenting support groups, homeless people and groups doing community cook-ups so this food has been gratefully received, especially during high food demand such as the COVID lockdowns of 2021.

When we entered the NZ Food Awards for the Food Hero Category, it was both a shock and honor to also walk away with the 2020 Supreme Winner Award too. This award is not just for us but the many organisations and people who helped us deliver the millions of meals that were distributed to our communities.

In 2019, Fair Food was a mobile service that rescued and delivered over 120 tonnes but when the COVID pandemic struck, we ended up re-distributing over 140 tonnes of food a week. COVID was a game-changer for food rescue because of the sheer volumes of food that was in the supply chain when lockdown hit the nation. Through teamwork, dedication and creativity we ended up distributing over 3 million meals in 2020.

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Image by Tobias Kraus

Our good friends at One Percent Collective featured Fair Food and one of our most charismatic food recipients, Victor Davies from Waitakere Community Outreach, to talk about our joint impact.

Victor has been running the Waitakere Community Outreach for over 20 years and it’s the stories he shares with us that give us a sense of how Fair Food is making a difference. Because Fair Food is the ‘charity behind the charities’ – supporting other frontline charities with fresh, nutritious food – we don’t get to interact with the families or whanau receiving the food so, we love hearing the impact we are having in our communities.

Mihi to One Percent Collective for supporting Fair Food and this great story for us to share.

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