It began with a phone call from a Wellington café. In 2008 Kaibosh founders started rescuing quality surplus food and storing it overnight in their home, before passing it on to people in need.
Ten years on, the founders reflect on the funny moments, the challenges and the joy of rescuing and redistributing food in the Wellington region.
How it all started
Kaibosh was founded in October 2008 when original donor Wishbone wanted to donate their quality surplus food to local charities. However, these groups weren’t able to collect the food after business hours.
Robyn Langlands, a volunteer at the Wellington Women’s Refuge, offered to pick up Wishbone’s surplus food in the evening, passing it on to the women and children staying at the safe-house.
Robyn and her husband George discovered that other Wellington businesses had a surplus of food that was needlessly going to waste, while numerous charities had a requirement for this food. The couple went on to found Kaibosh, New Zealand’s first dedicated food rescue organisation.
The funny moments
Robyn remembers filling bags to the brim with food and packing them into their Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
“We’d take the food home to keep it overnight. We’d have it stored on the kitchen counters and tables – there was food everywhere.
“In the early days we didn’t have heaps of volunteers and one rainy Saturday the people who were supposed to help with a market pick-up didn’t turn up.
“George (Kaibosh co-founder) had to do the market run by himself, which wasn’t so bad. The tough part was he had to sort through 10 crates of past their prime plums by himself.
It took most of the afternoon and George had purple stains on his fingers for the next week.”
The greatest challenges
Robyn says, “Having limited resources was the greatest challenge in the early days. We needed money for rent, a refrigerated van and to employ someone and raising funds was challenging.
“Another challenge was trying to figure out how to grow the organisation in the best possible way so that it was sustainable.
“Early on we worried that we would start something and that it would fall over.
“That the charities would begin to depend on donations of food, we wouldn’t have the money or the resources to sustain the service and then the charities wouldn’t have access to that food anymore.
“It was a challenge making Kaibosh sustainable.”
The joy moment
“When we recruited our first employee, Li Ling Ho. She was really invested in the idea and did such a good job developing processes and giving Kaibosh a good foundation.
“Winning the 2012 Trustpower National Community Supreme Award was a real highlight. At the awards ceremony there were more than 20 other charities from all around the country. We felt so privileged to be there, and then we won!
It was validation that people really believed in the idea of Kaibosh.
“After winning the award we got a lot of media attention. We were flooded with requests from groups all around New Zealand who were inspired to set up something similar in their own communities. It was really great to see!”
Ten years on
After 10 years of growth Kaibosh now has two bases, Wellington and the Hutt. They rescue and sort food from over 40 businesses, with the help of more than 200 volunteers and redistribute it to more than 65 community groups.
In the past decade Kaibosh has rescued more than one million kilos of quality surplus food, provided 2.9 million meals worth of healthy food to people in need, and reduced carbon emissions by 795,512kg.
Robyn believes Kaibosh has been successful because it’s a solution to two problems – food poverty and food waste.
“When we started there was a focus in society on food waste and Kaibosh tapped into what people were concerned about. Early on we had a lot of support and that just grew as more people found out about our work.”
Kaibosh General Manager Matt Dagger says the past 10 years have been incredible for Kaibosh with the many positive social and environmental outcomes they have been able to achieve.
“We have been carried along by the generosity of our community and the many businesses and individuals who have supported Kaibosh.
“We’re confident we’ve made a tangible difference in the lives of many less fortunate people, whilst keeping quality surplus food out of landfill.”
Kaibosh relies on the generosity of the community to rescue and redistribute food to vulnerable people in Greater Wellington.
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For more information:
Help Kaibosh celebrate 10 years by donating $10 a week and provide 10 meals each week to people in need. To find out more visit www.kaibosh.org.nz/10for10