FoodTo­gether proves fruit­ful

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

If you have ever lived with a teenager, the like­li­hood is you can re­late to the say­ing ‘to be eaten out of house and home.’

New Ply­mouth’s Vanessa Web­ber has three teenage sons and up un­til six months ago her fruit and vege bill was go­ing up weekly.

By chance her friend threw her a life­line, so-to-speak, when she shared some in­for­ma­tion about Foodto­gether on­line.

‘‘I thought I would give it a go and I haven’t stopped,’’ Web­ber said.

Foodto­gether is a so­cial en­ter­prise that runs na­tion­wide and co-or­di­nates the pur­chase of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles in bulk from whole­salers. A net­work of vol­un­teers then sort and pack it be­fore cus­tomers col­lect their ed­i­ble packs from churches across the re­gion.

Now, the Web­bers gro­cery bill has been chopped and their din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes a greater va­ri­ety of meals.

‘‘It has changed the way I cook - I’ve been ex­posed to dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles to what I might nor­mally buy and chal­lenged to cook dif­fer­ent things and as a re­sult we eat a wider va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles,’’ Web­ber said. ‘‘We eat what’s in sea­son and we save money.’’

You don’t have to tick the low in­come fam­ily box, by shar­ing freight costs - the more peo­ple who sign up the bet­ter. As the en­ter­prise grows it con­tin­ues to add more to the range of fresh pro­duce, and eggs were added to the list. Now a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice is also avail­able for peo­ple to set up a stan­dard order.

‘‘We’re not here to make prof­its but to grow a sus­tain­able busi­ness that im­proves the lives of New Zealan­ders,’’ says lo­cal Foodto­gether co-or­di­na­tor Lance Pil­brow.

Pil­brow said as well as of­fer­ing the best price the scheme had taken off thanks to its vol­un­teer base and the good­will of lo­cal churches. Waste or food ex­pi­ra­tion is a non-is­sue be­cause each week the stock or­dered from the sup­pli­ers is made up from or­ders that cus­tomers placed.

‘‘So we don’t have food spoil­ing on the shelves,’’ Pil­brow said.

The sys­tem is sim­ple but effective; cus­tomers order one of three dif­fer­ent sized boxes ($15, $26.50 and $36.50) from the Foodto­gether website by mid­day on a Tues­day, pay on­line, then col­lect their pro­duce box from a lo­cal church on a Thurs­day. Pick up points are in New Ply­mouth, In­gle­wood, Waitara, Stratford and Opunake. Home de­liv­ery is avail­able in New Ply­mouth.

ANDY JACK­SON/STUFF

Foodto­gether’s Lance Pil­brow shows off some of the cheap fruit and veg­gies on sale.

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