Large donations of food are being distributed for free throughout New Zealand as the Covid-19 crisis results in more people needing help to put a meal on the table.
KiwiHarvest Founder, Deborah Manning, says that increasing food poverty means it isn’t simply business as usual for her organisation, which is an essential service.
“Business has been absolutely extraordinary…business as usual, ramped up ten times,” she says.
“We’ve been working harder and longer hours. The staff have been tremendous, the way they’ve pulled together.”
In usual times, the organisation rescues surplus fresh food and distributes this for free to more than 200 charities, who provide food support in their community.
As the nation began its household isolation at 11.59 p.m. on March 25, the hospitality industry temporarily shut down. It donated increased amounts of surplus food which KiwiHarvest sent to many new places.
In addition, the organisation started receiving more bulk products, both surplus and donated.
Some hard-working KiwiHarvest staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) spend hours at their warehouses sorting donations. They observe routine food handling rules plus practise physical distancing as part of the nation’s Covid-19 virus prevention measures.
Dedicated staff truck drivers, also wearing PPE, deliver produce to food rescues, food banks, iwi, women’s refuges and other agencies which remain operating under the Covid-19 restrictions. They pass on supplies to those in most hardship.
“The demand is far greater than the supply.”
Deborah says that as the food surplus diminished, the country entered its present phase of increasing food poverty.
There are people who have never experienced food insecurity before who are now experiencing it.”
She says all the usual food donors that are open during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 continue to donate food. This includes major supermarket chains and Pukekohe vegetable and fruit growers.
With further generosity, large companies have also donated bulk produce.
Kraft Heinz offered pallets of frozen food, which KiwiHarvest has distributed from the north to south of the country, and from the west to east coasts.
Sanitarium sent many pallets of Weet-Bix; Fonterra donated dairy products, Turners & Growers, vegetables and The Warehouse, chocolate Easter eggs.
Deborah says the businesses recognise there is a need and that KiwiHarvest has the mechanisms to deliver food throughout New Zealand.
“That’s the Kiwi way though – give people the opportunity to do good and show them how.”
In partnership with the food banks and rescue groups, the organisation is attempting to spread the bulk food around the country to meet the greatest hardship. Some rural areas have a dire need and iwi are providing food support.
“They just need food.”
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