Free food store celebrates six years of service
Some people wouldn’t think twice about throwing their leftovers in the bin.
Others, like Rebecca Culver, would instead give their excess food to the homeless.
Culver has been breaking bread and sharing food with needy people even before she founded her food charity, Just Zilch, which turned 6 this month.
Before Zilch’s inception, Culver had worked in a supermarket and was horrified to see all the leftover food being disposed of.
‘‘I thought, why is all this food going to waste when we have these people in need.’’
When volunteering for an organisation that gave away its leftover bread, the idea of a free food store was born.
People can access food at Just Zilch and not be questioned or judged.
Over the years Culver has seen the number of people using the service more than double, as retirees, grandparents, students, beneficiaries, workers, parents, families and people with health and mental health issues, visit each day in need of free grocery items.
This year on average about 190 people visit Just Zilch for food each day.
Last week there was an average of 239 people, Culver said.
Although numbers fluctuated, there was a clear need for food and basic grocery items from people who were struggling.
A survey by Massey University students found the largest group to use the service were Pakeha males, aged 30-54 years.
About 47 percent of those surveyed lived in households with children.
Some of the reasons people visited Just Zilch included: money not stretching far enough; struggling with bills, pensioners finding it hard to pay bills and care for grandchildren; being behind in payments; and the benefit not being enough.
Her mission was to encourage the Palmerston North community to never let anyone go hungry.
Now Just Zilch had not only become a popular food store, but also a distribution hub for other charities, Culver was aiming to grow further.
‘‘We live in a very generous community, and Just Zilch is only possible because we have so many generous providers and volunteers. Together, we are focused on creating a society free from hunger by reducing food waste.’’
Marion Birch receiving a helping hand from Just Zilch volunteer Liam Clayton.