Increasing need for city free food store Just Zilch
Palmerston North free food store Just Zilch is dealing with unprecedented demand as almost 300 people stop in daily.
Since reopening in January after the Christmas - New Year break, store founder Rebecca Culver said they’d noticed an increase in people from all walks of life through the doors.
‘‘The average has crept up to just over 200 a day. Some days we’re dealing with 260 - 270 people. It’s crazy - numbers that we’ve never experienced before.’’
Some of that increase could be due to more people being aware of the store, or the Featherston St location being more accessible, but Culver suspects it’s because greater numbers of people are finding it harder to make ends meet.
Juliet Tocker started coming to Just Zilch two weeks ago after moving to the city from Levin. Tocker said while she was just getting by in the smaller town, the extra cost of living in a bigger centre made it a struggle to get by. Supplies from Just Zilch provided a welcome top-up.
As well as the usual 4.30pm opening time, Just Zilch also opens for an hour from 1.30pm.
‘‘We’re now seeing between 50 - 90 people [then], even though at that time of the day, it’s not the best selection. The full range of food doesn’t come in until later in the day,’’ Culver said.
Volunteer staff used afternoons to collect reusable food donated from city businesses and re-stock the shelves. Culver said the store had about 60 volunteers it could call on.
The suggestion for an earlier shopping window came from customers who, for various reasons, were unable to come after 4.30pm and the extra trading hour was successfully trialled last August.
‘‘Numbers started off reasonably light, but it’s grown in popularity.’’
Shane Glockling said he pre-
‘‘Some days we're dealing with 260 - 270 people.’’
Rebecca Culver Just Zilch
ferred coming to ‘‘the cheapest store in town’’ at the earlier time ‘‘because it was more flexible and there were no kids around’’. Queues weren’t as long either.
While the quality and quantity of products available at Just Zilch had improved thanks to their suppliers, Culver said they were still seeking new businesses that wanted to add to their ‘‘triple bottom line’’ by contributing any surplus products to the community.
At this time she said they were light on fresh fruit and vegetables.
Just Zilch store manager Ben Sutherland and founder Rebecca Culver help distribute food to some of the hundreds of people visiting daily.