Food co-op faces funding crisis
A charity providing fresh fruit and vegetables to Porirua people is facing a tough year.
Sallie Calvert co-ordinates Wesley Community Action’s Fruit and Vege Co-op, a not-for profit programme that brings fresh produce to communities in the Wellington area.
She said changes in government funding were threatening the role she occupied.
‘‘There’s definitely the potential for crisis,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re pushed, but we’re going to survive.’’
Wesley is appealing for help to keep funding the role of co-op coordinator, which costs $65,000.
Team manager Makerita Makapelu said the role was vital to ensure the co-op’s future.
‘‘People don’t seem to realise there is no supermarket in Porirua’s east,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s extremely difficult to access fresh fruit and veges.’’
She said transport difficulties could mean people on low incomes shopped at dairies, which struggled to provide affordable, healthy food.
‘‘There’s 14 shops across the road from us and nine sell food that’s high fat and sugar.’’
A co-op co-ordinator was pivotal because the ability to buy in bulk made the food affordable, she said.
The scheme started in Cannons Creek a year ago and seven other neighbourhoods, including Titahi Bay, followed.
By paying a week in advance people can opt into the scheme and buy fresh fruit and vegetables at $10 a bag.
Calvert co-ordinates more than 1100 orders of fresh fruit and vegetables weekly.
This week, 240 bags will be picked up by the Cannons Creek community.
On Tuesdays a truck picks up 7000kg of fruit and vegetables preordered by Calvert.
After collecting the produce, the trucks head to community packing hubs, where volunteers sort the food into bags that are collected by buyers.
Makapelu said the co-op was providing the community with what it really needed.
‘‘People really want to provide healthy food for their family.’’
She said the staff were determined the co-op would become a long-term sustainable model.
‘‘I hear from people how their diet is changing because we offer affordability and accessibility. People want fresh food.’’