There’s been such a big demand that the Wakatipu’s branch of national charity food rescue programme, Kiwi Harvest, is hoping to expand over the hill to Wanaka, and also to Cromwell, this year.
Kiwi Harvest Queenstown’s first two part-time employees, branch co-ordinator Kayleigh Simons-Smith and Mel Wright, went to work from a new Glenda Drive warehouse base just after the main lockdown last year.
Volunteer Liz Mclean at work for Kiwi Harvest.
Each day they head out in the bright green Kiwi Harvest Ford Transit van to rescue food from local supermarkets that is nearing its ‘use by’ date, then delivering it to local help agencies. Since the Covid crisis and the opening of the local warehouse, Kiwi Harvest also receives bulk food donations through the New Zealand Food Network, set up during lockdown last year to help people in need. The NZ Food Network works direct with major food suppliers, like Fonterra, around the country, delivering pellets of leftover food. “We get a lot of breakfast cereal from Sanitarium NZ – frozen goods like plant-based vegetable ‘meat’ patties,” she says. “We take anything and everything.” It’s not always conventional food either. “At times we get all sorts of wonderful things like edible flowers and purple asparagus.”
Strict food safety regulations have to be adhered to and this year Kayleigh says they’d really like to start a Café Run, collecting leftover café cabinet food and delivering that to the agencies to distribute the next day.
There’s been a big increase in demand locally since lockdown and Kayleigh says the food is gratefully received by Baskets of Blessing, Happiness House for its produce day, Wakatipu Youth Trust and the Salvation Army. “They do various things with the food and I believe the need is quite large,” says Kayleigh.
“We might get fruit that hasn’t made the grading process for supermarkets, or that’s surplus to requirements, or nearing its ‘use by’ date,” she says. “We recently received a massive donation from the Queenstown Marathon organisers who had over ordered.” Pretty much all the local supermarkets are keen to help and Kayleigh says at times they will freeze the food overnight until Kiwi Harvest can collect it the next day.
There’s a bin by the main doors at Pak ‘n Save in Frankton where locals can also buy extra food and donate it.