NZ Food Network to bolster support for Kiwis living with food insecurity

With many New Zealanders facing increased financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, national levels of food insecurity have risen sharply in recent months – and are set to rise further when the wage subsidy scheme concludes in September. Now, a new venture is set to provide much-needed additional support to the hundreds of community organisations around the country that are working overtime to meet this growing need.

Launching this week, the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) will enable food hubs – such as food rescue organisations, iwi and charities – to expand their positive impact in the communities they serve, and beyond, by transforming supply chain processes to create better efficiency and synergy.

The NZFN will act as a centralised distribution hub, collecting and safely storing bulk food donations at its Auckland-based warehouse, with food then able to be requested on an as-needed basis (and at no cost) by food hubs around the country, without compromising their existing supply channels. Donations will include not only surplus and rescued food, which would otherwise go to landfill – but also bulk donations of saleable product from a community of generous donor partners.

Providing a comprehensive and streamlined solution to connect supply and demand, the NZFN also promises to eliminate the issue faced by many community organisations of a lack of on-site storage infrastructure, which can often see them having to turn away large food donations. The amount of food made available to any single organisation will depend on supply, the levels of deprivation or food insecurity in the communities they serve, coupled with their storage capacity.

New Zealand Food Network founder, Deborah Manning, says the launch this week marks the culmination of over two years of planning and preparation – with efforts expedited from the start of lockdown, to help meet the new wave of demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As New Zealanders, many of us share the belief that it’s our collective responsibility to ensure everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food. Although there are hundreds of dedicated food hubs around the country working towards this goal, and many generous food producers wanting to donate product to the cause, what was missing until now was an efficient and comprehensive solution that could connect this supply and demand.”

New Zealand Food Network CEO, Gavin Findlay, says, “Traditionally, those organisations working to address food insecurity throughout New Zealand – from both a food hub and food donor perspective – have faced logistical challenges which have limited their reach and positive impact. Food banks often don’t have storage capacity for significant volumes of food, and for that reason, many will have had to turn away larger donations – meaning that food goes to waste rather than making it into the communities which need it most.

“We’re incredibly proud to be launching the NZFN to provide the supporting infrastructure that will help eliminate that critical issue – enabling these community organisations to expand their capacity and reach, and make an even greater positive difference to those in need. The launch of the Network has been made possible thanks, in large part, to the generous support of our dedicated partners across the Government, private and social sectors, who each share our vision.

“These organisations will be instrumental in our efforts in getting food to where it’s needed most. In particular, we’d like to express our immense gratitude to the Ministry of Social Development, Kainga Ora and the Goodman Foundation, for their generous financial support,” Findlay concludes.

New Zealand Food Network Chairman, David Kirk, says “We have designed and are implementing a highly efficient supply chain solution to solve a long-standing problem in New Zealand – the difficulty major food growers and producers have in making excess and donated bulk food available to local food hubs throughout the country. The New Zealand Food Network is a major social asset for New Zealand and will support the many and increasing number of food-insecure New Zealanders in the years ahead.”

The NZFN’s partners include:

  • Foundation donor partners: T&G Fresh, Sanitarium, Fonterra
  • Other supporters: Ministry for Primary Industries

The NZFN will initially operate solely from its Auckland-based warehouse, before expanding its operations to establish a Christchurch facility later this year.

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