A mature feijoa plant can produce up to 30 kilos of fruit. That’s a lot of cordial and crumble. When you’ve had your fill, Fair Food urges you to donate your surplus to a local food rescue organisation to help feed people, not landfill. We aim to share the fresh ingredients for 5,000 meals each day, with a focus on the flood-impacted areas of West Auckland.

“With the cost of groceries at an all time high, and availability hitting a low, now is the perfect time to share your surplus homegrown fruits and veggies with friends and neighbours. There’s no such thing as too many courgettes or feijoas for us. We provide the fresh ingredients for a day’s worth of meals for 1600 people every single day, so we will find a family for whatever you’ve got in your garden,” encourages Fair Food General Manager Michelle Blau.

“We’re partnering with a local rest home to learn recipes for chutneys, jams, and soups, so we’re gaining the wisdom of our kaumatua while we feed our home community. Volunteers are always welcome in our zero waste Conscious Kitchen at our Hub in Avondale,” says Michelle. 

The gap in access to fresh food has increased considerably since the extreme weather this summer, and many home gardens were damaged. “Most areas of West Auckland lost electricity for days and had to bin everything in the fridge and freezer. A lot of people cannot afford to replace a week’s worth of food right now, so community groups stepped in to help. There are also hundreds of families who’ve moved in with relatives while they sort out their home, and that’s putting real pressure on the already strained supermarket bill.” 

“Food money is the most flexible expense in a tight budget. Families may use part of their food budget to replace an essential item, damaged by the flood, while they wait for an insurance reimbursement. It leaves many people in a vulnerable spot, especially with prices what they are at the moment. If you’ve got fresh food to spare, now is a great time to share it,” says Michelle.

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Fair Food is Auckland’s original food rescue charity, on a mission to feed people not landfill since 2011. We share around 35,000 meals worth of fresh food every week through a network of 50 local organisations. Supermarkets, manufacturers, and growers donate more than 1 tonne a day of surplus kai. Last year, Fair Food rescued 621 tonnes of food, which is the GHG emissions equivalent of driving 6.5 million kilometres and is like a week’s worth of food for up to 81,350 people. Across Aotearoa last year, food rescue organisations saved 11,500 tonnes of food

On Saturday at 10am, someone was called to help in West Auckland and by 11am, Give a Kid a Blanket co-founder Bernie Harfleet and his partner have provided for another family in need.

“[It’s] pretty typical really. We get a phone call or email from police in the morning. She’s gone to an incident, she’s found a family that needs some support,” Harfleet said.

That support comes in many forms, whether it’s food, blankets, sanitary items, clothes, toys and nappies – it’s all available on request.

“They’ve been lifesavers. For families that don’t have anything to have a wee gift of food or pyjamas or blankets and there’s always something extra that goes in – it’s just fantastic,” crisis counsellor Teresa Thomson said.

“The need has been higher than ever before. More and more charities are calling us for more and more kai,” Fair Food General Manager Michelle Blau told Newshub.

Two hundred people volunteer at Fair Food each month, and in December alone it’s handed out more than 100,000 meals.

“It’s a need that never seems to have an end, but also we’re happy that we’re here to try to meet it,” Blau said.

Helping make a difference not only at Christmas but every day of the year.

This story originally appeared on the TV 3 evening news on Christmas Eve with a feature of one of our recipient charities – Give a Kid a Blanket. Watch it here.

The price of fruits and vegetables has gone up 15%. When budgets are tight, fresh foods are the most likely items to get left out of the grocery cart. Fair Food fills this gap for people in need, hand-sorting more than 5 tonnes of rescued food each week to distribute for free through a network of 40 culturally-responsive local organisations.

“Kai is a hug you can eat, and Jacqui’s really good at loving on people.”, RJ reflects as she sets up the tables in the Glenavon Community Hub and Trust, based out of the local primary school. Each Tuesday, Jacqui picks up fresh food from Fair Food in the morning to make ‘kai connect’ care packages that can feed a family for the week. Whaea Jacqui and volunteers Pauline and Claire consider what meals can be made with the food available and have tips ready for any new vegetables, like parsnips or leeks, that might not be in people’s usual diets. 

Their team have relationships in the community that go back decades. It’s this local connection that removes some of the hurdles people face in getting help. As prices increase across the board, locally and globally, the team see more and more whānau reaching for support. 

“Kai insecurity can be such a drain, emotionally, physically, and mentally on an individual or whānau. Added into that mix are the vulnerabilities we see, our elderly, or those with medical conditions or impacts on whānau like mental health or addiction. Our Team feel a real sense of responsibility to love and care for one another. Our role is simply to close the gap on kai inequity and accessibility.” 

“It takes a village. With our team and supporters we are standing in agreement that Manaakitanga and Whanaungatanga stand as the core principles of the Glenavon Community Hub and Trust”, says Hub Coordinator RJ.   

The community hub team are experts at feeding a family on a budget but the biggest thing they offer is time. Reaching out for help and opening up about personal struggles is a brave thing to do. The Glenavon whānau provide genuine care that gives people the space to rest and lets them know they’re not alone. They deliver kai from Fair Food to people at home or where they’re staying if that’s the best way to provide assistance. They aren’t just passing on ingredients, they are looking after each other and repairing broken links in the community.   

RJ says she feels that same aroha from Fair Food. “Getting kai from Fair Food is different from other experiences. We hold the vision of hope for our people, offering wrap-around support services and modelling Awhi and Aroha, so our people of Glenavon will begin again to see themselves as valuable in their own life story.” 

“There’s so much thought, care, and attention that goes into each box packed by Fair Food. It’s more than kai. It’s potential and it’s hope.”

 

This post originally appeared on our regular giving partner, One Percent Collective. Sign up to share your generosity with Fair Food through OPC.

Our wonderful Tracey Pirini has been listed as a medallist for Kiwibank’s 2023 New Zealand Local Hero of the Year.

Tracey is our Head of Operations and Relationships, and she definitely lives up to her title – keeping everyone focused on feeding people not landfill. Relationships are at the heart of Tracey’s work to connect people with fresh food, and it’s awesome to see that recognised in this year’s New Zealander of the Year awards. 

The awards bio for Tracey says, “Tracey’s passion and leadership helps feed an estimated 20,000 people a week. She’s been instrumental in training supermarket managers on how to store and keep surplus food including dairy and meat products for Fair Food to rescue; she has to be quick on her feet – once she had a farmer drop off 200 kgs of ripe avocados – the next day they were distributed for people to enjoy.”

You will catch Tracey on the road visiting supermarkets, inspiring volunteers in our warehouse, or constantly picking up the phone to rescue food or help those in need. Tracey is always on the lookout for more opportunities for Fair Food and the West Auckland community where she’s from.

 

We couldn’t say it better than the medallist herself:

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari kē he toa takitini.

This whakatauki acknowledges team effort, that one’s success is due to the support and contribution of many. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community/a team to enable an individual’s success.

As a servant to your community and people you hope that your commitment, passion and actions offer examples and role models behaviours that others want to emulate so that they in turn can lead and inspire others. It’s a privilege when your mahi directly impacts on your community and people, it’s mahi that feeds your wairua.

I acknowledge those who are all part of and have contributed to all that I am today, first and foremost my parents, Haki & Susan Watene, my sisters, my family and my life long friends.

The amazing successful Māori wahine who I have had the privilege and honour to work and walk alongside, who shared their puukenga with me and who allowed me to observe, listen and learn from. Nga mihi ki a Whaea Dame June Mariu, Tui Ah Loo, Carol Ngawati, Denise Ewe

My Fair Food NZ team, whanau and Board who have supported me since I joined – you are all the real superheroes.

And finally, my 6 children and moko who taught me the art of patience, resilience, sacrifice, time management, pride, joy, compromise, how to referee, and most importantly how to love. You are my “why” – this belongs to you all.

The Spinoff popped into the Hub and wrote an awesome story about Fair Food’s mahi. 

This story covers food waste, climate change, food insecurity and our amazing volunteers. One of our long serving volunteers, Eglee comments that, “a lot of people are hungry, to see good food go to the rubbish hurts my heart.” Tautoko that feeling! 

Globally, around one third of all food is wasted. In Aotearoa, we throw away around 300,000 tonnes of food a year. That’s 30 times heavier than the Eiffel Tower!

While we’re wasting all this food, up to 40% of New Zealanders may experience food insecurity, and for 7% this can be severe – meaning going a day or more without food. This failure to link up good food with people who need it is a symptom of a broken system, further exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. 

Food rescue steps in to fill a gap that shouldn’t be there. “We don’t celebrate growth in our industry,” says Blau.

Check out the full story here https://thespinoff.co.nz/kai/03-11-2022/food-rescue-is-helping-people-and-the-climate 

Fair Food welcomes the report Food Rescue in 2022 by Dame Juliet Gerrard, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Thank you for allowing us to be on the advisory group and for spending time with us to prepare your findings that will guide our sector. We were glad to see the focus on the role that food hubs play in providing fresh and healthy produce that many families otherwise could not afford. 

“During COVID-19, food rescue organisations across Aotearoa were an essential part of feeding those who had lost their jobs, had to isolate or who just needed food. Now that we are seeing what society looks like without COVID-19, the food rescue sector needs sustainable resources to disconnect the relationship between surplus food and food insecurity. The report outlines that the funding beyond mid-2023 is uncertain, even though for every $1 invested in food rescue, there’s a $4.50 return on investment,” shares Iain Lees-Galloway, AFRA  

Based on the data from AFRA and NZFN, 11,500 tonnes of food that would otherwise go to landfill was rescued across the motu last year (that’s 1,642 male African elephants!). Nearly seven percent of that was rescued just by Fair Food. 

We do not celebrate our successes in the food rescue sector because we want to live in a world where we do not need to exist. However, while there is a need, Fair Food will continue to serve the West Auckland community with the passion of our staff and volunteers.

We currently serve over 40 frontline charities across Auckland who distribute to people in need including asylum seekers, young parents, those sleeping rough, mental health agencies, and women and children experiencing domestic violence. There’s a wait list for our services, and most of our existing charities could take more kai. 

The food rescue sector has become a vital component of steering Aotearoa towards food security and minimising the effects of climate change. In order to do this important mahi, the sector needs sustainable funding to continue to rescue food that was destined for landfill to re-distribute it to those in need. 

Farro Fresh have been our food rescue partners since day one back in 2011! As a part of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, Farro Fresh invited us to collaborate with them on a free mini zero waste digital cookbook. Of course we jumped on board and helped create the recipes in their spring edition to reflect the ingredients we pass along from their stores everyday.

We love the chance to share easy zero waste recipes that we know work on any budget with any skill level. There’s everything from sweet to savoury, to snacks to an oven-baked hāngī.

Head to their website to check out what we all whipped up!

Fair Food expands our reach in the West Auckland community with the official opening of a donated kitchen, thanks to the DE Group and Jones Family Business, and support from DIA Lotteries and MSD.

“At Fair Food, we’re passionate about feeding our communities in need. We know how good it feels when someone’s taken the time to make you a nice meal or baked some banana cake, especially during a stressful time,” shares Michelle Blau, Fair Food General Manager.

“Our new kitchen facilities make it possible to get up to 2500 more meals to our charity partners across Auckland every month. By saving this food from landfill, our aim is for the Conscious Kitchen to keep more than 9.3 tonnes of greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere over the next year.

“The kitchen is the heart of any home. We are excited to now have space to offer community cooking classes and educational events, too. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the DE Group and Jones Family Business helping make this vision come true,” says Ms. Blau.  

“When we first heard about Fair Food, we were very moved by the positive impact that they have on the community. At Kitchen Things, we help people get the most out of their appliances and at Fair Food, they help people get the most out of food, so we felt a strong alignment. Being a New Zealand, intergenerational family business, we were delighted to donate the kitchen and a suite of new Inalto and Smeg kitchen appliances that can further help Fair Food to maximise the use of food they rescue,” shares Rachel Louie, Managing Director of Jones Family Business and Kitchen Things. 

Group of people in front of demo kitchen
Members of the Jones Family and DE Group attend official kitchen opening.

What the kitchen means to Fair Food

We lovingly hand-sort all our fruits and veggies, but we didn’t have a way to upcycle the ones that need to be cooked right away. Having a kitchen will allow us to make the most of the food we rescue every day to make soups, baked goods, meal kits, and other prepared meals for people who don’t have access to adequate cooking facilities. Currently, that food has to go to animal farmers or the compost bin.

We hope to grow to be able to rescue an extra one tonne of food each month to share 2,500 more meals with the community.  The CO2 savings from this rescued food is 778 kilograms of toxic greenhouse gases saved from the atmosphere each month.

Over winter, June- August 2022, we have provided food for over 492,000 meals to our communities in need. We can do this for an operating cost of about $1.20 for 3 meals. Last year, we rescued 753 tonnes of food from going to landfill. That’s 2.2 million meals thanks to our food rescue superheroes!

Get involved

We’re powered by hundreds of volunteers who hand-sort fresh food in our hub in Avondale and prepare it for 30+ trusted partner charities to distribute to people in need including asylum seekers, young parents, those sleeping rough, mental health agencies, and women and children experiencing domestic violence.

If you’ve got kitchen skills and would like to volunteer to help cook or bake, please get in touch with us.

Food and climate

When we feed people not landfill, we are doing our bit to stop climate change.

Food breaks down as methane, which is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming our planet. When we keep food from being wasted, it’s a major climate intervention. Globally, one third of all food produced is wasted. The greenhouse gas emissions from food loss and waste are the same as road transport globally, and more than four times the emissions of the aviation industry.

It’s been a bumper year for citrus, and Fair Food is happy to receive it to feed families across West Auckland. Allan Pollard, CEO of The Trusts, a local social enterprise which has provided financial support for Fair Food, says, “We want to encourage those who have surplus fruit growing on their trees to pick and donate this to a local food charity – rather than let it go to waste rotting on the ground.”

Thanks to the encouragement of the Trusts, we’ve been getting some beautiful donations of lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit. And, Jesse Mulligan even gave us a call to chat about it on his RNZ afternoon radio show.

The poverty gap is widening, and pandemic-driven food shortages, inflation and winter heating costs are all impacting already vulnerable families. Around 40% of Kiwi households experience food insecurity, and 19% of our tamariki live in homes where consistency of food supply is a concern.

“I know one woman recently had to stop her children’s sporting activities over the weekend because it became a choice between paying for the petrol to get them there, or buying groceries. I have heard of others having to go without heat. No one should have to be in this position,” says CFO Deb McLaughlin.

Helen is the Young Mums Program Co-ordinator at the Living and Learning Family Centre in Henderson and every week, she picks up fresh produce, meat, bread, milk, eggs and other goodies from Fair Food and brings it back for the Young Mums program.

It’s kai time so together, the mums prepare lunch, learn budget cooking recipes and tips, and then the rest of the fresh food is divided up between them to take home to their families.

“When the food arrives, we look at what we’ve received and then we think of recipes to make, or we might look at what we can afford to buy, to bulk out the food to last a week. It teaches cooking skills and budgeting skills” says Helen.

She pulls out recipe books with simple, tasty recipes they’ve collected over the decade including a few from the trusty Edmonds cookbook. Helen’s got hundreds of photos of the delicious meals they’ve made in the kitchen.

“Our mums come three days a week for 20 weeks. We have childcare facilities on-site so it means our mums can spend quality time for themselves”. An early childhood centre is at the heart of every Living and Learning Family Centre with education for both wāhine and tamariki to set them up for success. It’s a warm, welcoming environment, abuzz with conversation. HealthWest have just left as social workers arrive from E Tipu E Rea Whanau Services because the Young Mums program is also about connection; knowing who in the community they can reach out to when in need.

“I’ve kept in touch with so many of the mums who have completed the programme. I hold their stories in here” as Helen puts her palm on her chest. “It’s so rewarding to see them flourish. Some have gone on to study early childhood education which has led to employment within our Centre”.

Apart from a regular supply of fresh food, Helen would love a steady supply of nappies, toiletries and period products for all whanau at the Living and Learning Centre.

“Do you know anyone who can provide us with free period underwear? They are awesome! Sustainable, cost-effective because we need to educate our women on what’s out there. Traditional period products are expensive”.

With over twenty years experience in youth work, Helen still has the energy of a young’n herself! She’s passionate, bubbly, talks fast and oozes a love for her community.

“We’ve been receiving food from Fair Food since our program began and we remain so incredibly grateful. Fair Food is part of helping our women succeed”.