“No mum wants to send their kids to school with an empty lunchbox. Every day, we visit kids who are staying home from school because of hunger,” shares an attendance advisor, while Fair Food volunteers load up her car with fresh produce, eggs, and dairy for a family of four. 

“Food is exactly what we need to get kids back in school. More and more families are being sent our way due to chronically missing school or are caught shoplifting for a bit of food so that they just have something to eat for lunch.

“We can work with the families, but until they have food, there will be a barrier to attendance.” 

Fair Food has seen a huge rise in referrals for food assistance through schools. In addition to support through police and truancy services, we are now making lunch packs for schools that don’t qualify for the Ka Ora Ka Ako government lunch programme. 

“The cost of living keeps outpacing salaries, and more and more families who work full-time now need help with food. There’s kids in our community who save their school lunch, so there’s something for them to eat for dinner.

“We are now operating seven days a week to help people who work Monday through Friday and can’t get to a traditional social service because they’re working when it’s open,” says Fair Food General Manager Michelle. 

The Kai Club, started by students at a local Intermediate School, distributed soup and bread throughout winter until their supplies ran out. They turned to Fair Food to fill the gap. Niva, the Leader of Pasifika shared, “We are so grateful to Fair Food who have stepped in to provide us with pre-made food which the Kai Club reheats and distributes. Through their kind donation, we have been able to provide food to students daily as well as toast and fruit to any student who needs a snack during lunchtime.”

“Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to help make sure hunger doesn’t get in the way of learning” says Michelle. “An $11 donation means a week’s worth of meals for someone who would otherwise not eat.” 

Fair Food is humbled to have passed the milestone of sharing 5 million meals worth of fresh food with people in need, since 2021. Supermarkets, food manufacturers, and growers donate their surplus fresh ingredients to Fair Food, which prepares them for distribution through a network of 60 Auckland community groups. 

In 2023, Fair Food kept 656 tonnes of food from going to landfill, which is like 72,906 kerbside rubbish collections. 

 

Advice for all 

Here are 10 top tips for making your food last longer, so you get the most for your money. 

Ignore the best before dates and use your judgement about when a food is no longer to your liking. Any label other than “use by” does not impact food safety and is purely cosmetic. 

Storage: learn which foods go together, so they don’t spoil each other. Keep bananas and tomatoes away from other fruits. Learn the temperature zones of your fridge, so each item stays at the best temperature for it.

Decant your salad greens into a container with a paper towel to soak up the moisture instead of leaving them in a plastic bag. 

Love your leftovers: fried rice, pizza, puff pastry, or rice paper rolls are all easy bases for any spare veggies or meat. They are crowd pleasers for kids, too, because they can help with the assembly. 

If you have any vegetable that’s not your favourite, like a broccoli stalk, grate it instead of chopping it. 

 

Next Level

Meal plan: before you go to the store, take a pic of the inside of your pantry and fridge if you’re someone who tends to forget which ingredients you already have. Write your menu for the week before you grocery shop, so you know exactly what needs to be on your shopping list and can buy foods that work for more than one meal. 

Bake with it: milk on its last life works like buttermilk in baking. Bananas or brown avocado are great egg substitutes. Bruised fruit is perfect tucked into a puff pastry sheet, tart, or jam. If you are bulk-buying fruits this time of year while they’re less expensive, wash and freeze them now for your smoothies or baking all year round. 

 

Enthusiasts

Lemons: Use your lemon rinds in a cleaning solution or pickle them. 

Soup stock: make your own bone broth by boiling bones and vegetable peels.

Milk: turn it into yoghurt, butter, labneh, or mozzarella instead of letting it go to waste.

A group of Kiwis are determined to fight food waste this holiday season.

Fair Food is an organisation that works seven days a week, 365 days a year, to try and fix two major issues in New Zealand – food poverty and food waste.

An army of volunteers operate out of a West Auckland warehouse, constantly sorting through food destined for the landfill and trying to find it a home where it’s desperately needed.

Two thousand kilograms of kai is delivered to the organisation by supermarkets who have, for a range of different reasons, deemed it unable to be sold.

Fair Food general manager Michelle Blau said it’s usually produce that consumers won’t buy due to being disfigured or unattractive.

“People often buy food like strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes in groups, but as soon as one item goes off then no one is purchasing it. That doesn’t mean we can’t pick through it and make a a beautiful new box of strawberries for someone else,” she said.

This examination process means they’re able to turn that two tonnes of food into 6000 meal boxes, working with 50 different charities to get it to those in need.

“When people are hungry there’s no reason why perfectly good food should end up in the bin,” Blau told 1News.

“We’re trying to recognise ourselves into non-existence, the big numbers represent more hunger and more waste, neither of which we want to see.”

Fair Food is gearing up to share enough fresh food for more than 100,000 meals this December to families who would otherwise go without.

“The demand for food support is higher than ever before, but our community is rallying to meet the need, so everyone has a meal to share on Christmas,” says Michelle Blau, Fair Food General Manager. 

“More than 200 volunteers have already signed up to help us sort through 30 tonnes of fresh food and get it ready for distribution via 50 local charities.

“Food brings people together, but it can also be a source of shame when you have nothing to bring to a gathering. Far too many people in our community miss out on social activities because of hunger. 

“No one’s grocery budget is going as far as it used to, and with the kids at home for summer, we know that adds extra costs and pressures on families who are already doing it tough. Fair Food is operating 7 days a week to meet the growing demand from people who work full-time but need food support,” shares Michelle.

Join our friends and neighbours who are pitching in. 

Bid for items on our 12 days of Christmas TradeMe auction. There’s something for everyone on the naughty or nice list. 

Order our Fair Food cupcakes and savoury treats for your next gathering.

Bring your family around to volunteer in our Conscious Kitchen or at our sorting tables. 

Fair Food is proud to be a founding member of the Steering Committee for Kai West. Our collective vision is for a nourished West Auckland where people have access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food from a local and regenerative food system.

Kai West emerged from the Collaborative Marketplace in 2017 where community organisations came together to find ways to collectively support the people of West Auckland with a focus on prioritising Māori and Pacific people and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The organisations who came together to talk about kai during this time still make up the core membership of the collective today.

Fair Food chairs the Free Food Forum to connect the diverse eco-system of organisations providing emergency free food support. By coordinating efforts, pooling resources, and sharing skills and knowledge, community organisations are able to strengthen their services and reach families needing support swiftly and safely.

“Our community is incredible and takes excellent care of each other, so it was no surprise that many groups wanted to provide food support during the pandemic. It was invaluable to have coordinated approaches, so social service providers knew where to direct their clients, and food could more easily be distributed in a safe and culturally-appropriate manner. Ultimately, you can’t solve hunger with food, so being part of Kai West allows us to advocate for systems change that reduce inequality. Our goal is to not be needed,” says Michelle, Fair Food General Manager.

Check out Kai West’s impact.

Many families are stretching their finances, leaving behind things that are perceived as an absolute necessity. Non-luxury items are suddenly deemed as luxuries, including sanitary products, toiletries and cleaning products.

“Groceries are the flexible expense in a tight budget, and with the cost of living crisis hitting our community hard, cleaning products can feel like a luxury item. Often, people don’t think about toiletries, personal care, or cleaning items when they’re donating to a food bank, but these are very much needed.”

 

The Cleanery products are super easy to use since they’re powder-based. We also got some cute labels to stick on the bottles. We love having a solution that meets our community’s need without burdening them with waste” Michelle says.

Check out more Cleanery products and the story here

Thanks to Coca Cola for helping us Feed People Not Landfill.

Now in its second year in New Zealand, Support My Cause is a global initiative to support local charities, community organisations or good causes that resonate with CCEP’s employees. This year, employees at CCEP NZ nominated and voted for local charities that strive to make a difference in sustainability, community, inclusion and diversity.

“This generous donation from CCEP NZ enables Fair Food to create a week’s worth of meals for 700 people who would otherwise go without. We are so thankful to CCEP NZ for helping us feed our community,” said Michelle Blau, General Manager of Fair Food.

Dawn Goodeve nominated Fair Food after a team volunteering day with the charity earlier in the year.

“I was blown away by the amount of food from supermarkets that was going to landfill each day and could instead be redirected to the community. With the current cost of living crisis, CCEP NZ’s donation is a practical way of giving back and ensuring that no one goes hungry,” said Goodeve.

Read more about this generous donation on Supermarket News.

At Fair Food, on Rosebank Road, Avondale, the warehouse has been equipped with stainless-steel sorting tables, nonslip mats and colourful plastic tubs for kitchen sorting and compost.

“I’d like to thank all three local boards for their support, which allowed us to improve the health and safety of our warehouse work environment,” says Fair Food General Manager, Michelle Blau.

“This included making all the stainless-steel sorting tables the same to streamline the experience and reduce risk through consistency. We also added nonslip mats, so the floor surfaces are even, and people aren’t standing on the hard concrete for hours.

“More plastic tubs were added for kitchen sorting and compost, so volunteers don’t overfill them, making the tubs too heavy to safely lift.

Read more about this awesome grant on the Auckland Council website.

Fair Food is excited to announce that Tracey has been chosen as a Local Hero finalist from Westfield St Lukes. Fair Food is eligible for a generous donation of up to $20,000. Thanks to everyone who voted for us or spread the word. We will find out the results in October.

Tracey’s nomination has been featured in the New Zealand Herald, on Te Ao News, and on 531pi.

Here’s what Westfield had to say about Tracey’s nomination as a finalist:

Tracey works tirelessly to provide free fresh food for people in need across Auckland. Tracey is Head of Operations and Relationships at Fair Food, which provides ingredients for 34,000 meals a week. Tracey works with her team and many partners to ensure the correct food gets to where it is needed on time.

If Tracey is successful in the community vote, Fair Food will use its funds to source ingredients for thousands of meals and to cover distribution costs.

“Mandarin oranges used to be in every packed lunch this time of year. Now, at about $1 per mandarin, they’re almost a luxury item for low-income families trying to stretch their grocery budgets,” says Fair Food General Manager Michelle Blau. 

Fruit and vegetable prices are 22 per cent higher than they were last year. The gap in access to fresh food has increased considerably since many home gardens were damaged in the extreme weather. 

Auckland food rescue hub Fair Food urges people with fruit trees to donate their surplus citrus to a local food rescue organisation to help feed people this winter. Last month, Fair Food shared 57,615 kilos of rescued food, but it is still not enough to keep up with the growing demand for help, especially among people working full time. 

“One bag of oranges might not seem like a lot to someone with a backyard of trees, but for us, it’s a whole classroom of kids that now get morning tea.”  

“Even grapefruit is welcome at Fair Food. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but 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. Last winter, we were able to help hundreds more families thanks to donations of homegrown fruit. 

“We’ve partnered with a local rest home to learn recipes for chutneys and marmalades to share the wisdom of our kaumatua while we feed our home community. Volunteers or their home preserves are also always welcome in our zero waste Conscious Kitchen. 

“Some people haven’t had a piece of fruit in weeks, and others have it rotting in their yard. If you’ve got citrus to spare, now is the perfect time to share it. If you can’t get to a food rescue hub, then at least meet your neighbours,” encourages Michelle.