Res­cued food set to find new home

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - JES­SICA LONG

Food des­tined for the rub­bish bin will soon be res­cued and sent off to a new home.

On April 3, vol­un­teers for the Nel­son En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre’s new Food Res­cue Ser­vice will visit the cen­tral city Count­down su­per­mar­ket to pick up un­wanted and sur­plus food to re­dis­tribute to char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions and groups.

Fruit, veg­eta­bles, bread, meat and dairy de­scribed as be­ing ‘‘good enough to eat but not good enough to sell’’ is re­cy­cled and given to those in need, says NEC de­vel­op­ment man­ager Ruth Seabright.

The idea is su­per­mar­kets, cafes, restau­rants, pro­duce grow­ers and mar­ket whole­salers agree for vol­un­teers to pick up sur­plus or ‘‘ugly’’ food.

That food is sorted, logged and pack­aged into quan­ti­ties for the var­i­ous groups and char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions who sign up for the pro­gramme. A vol­un­teer driver and crew then drop it off.

Seabright said a $20,000 do­na­tion from the Lot­ter­ies Com­mis­sion and $25,000 from a mem­ber of the pub­lic has al­lowed NEC to buy a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled van and build a cool room in their Van­guard St build­ing.

Some have also do­nated items such as scales and fruit and veg­etable crates, as well as given cash do­na­tions.

She said it was over­whelm­ing to re­ceive so much sup­port for the not-for-profit en­ter­prise, but NEC was still wait­ing on other fund­ing and is in need of vol­un­teers to kick start the project.

‘‘We’ve had re­ally pos­i­tive re­sponses from peo­ple who have heard the project is hap­pen­ing.’’

Vic­tory and Tahu­nanui Com­mu­nity cen­tres, Loaves and Fish­ers and St Vin­cent de Paul, a lo­cal school and smaller groups have al­ready signed up to re­ceive the food de­liv­er­ies.

‘‘I’ve got a grow­ing list but [we’re] more than happy for other groups, such as groups that want to take food that’s cook­ing grade and be pre­pared to cook and freeze it.

‘‘We’re re­ally happy to see those groups that might have a use for the food.’’

As the for­mer Waikato En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre gen­eral man­ager, Seabright has used her ex­pe­ri­ence of es­tab­lish­ing and run­ning a suc­cess­ful food res­cue ser­vice, Kaivo­lu­tion, to bring the project to Nel­son.

How­ever, she said bring­ing the con­cept to the South Is­land had come with chal­lenges.

‘‘To be hon­est with you, it’s a lit­tle bit harder to get fund­ing I think in the South Is­land.

‘‘I think there are per­cep­tions that Nel­son is quite wealthy and ac­tu­ally there are peo­ple in need here as well.’’

Seabright said the Nel­son En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre had pi­loted a sim­i­lar pro­gramme last year with Nel­son and Rich­mond Fresh Choice su­per­mar­kets.

After a suc­cess­ful trial in the re­gion, the Nel­son Food Res­cue Ser­vice is set to be a for­mal up­scale of the con­cept.

Any­one in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing goods, money or vol­un­teer time can con­tact the shop on 03 545 9176 or email info@nec.org.nz.

PHOTO: MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Nel­son En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre de­vel­op­ment man­ager Ruth Seabright, left, and waste min­imi­sa­tion man­ager Karen Driver.

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