One year celebration
For one morning a week, a Palmerston North church becomes a vegetable market. Social enterprise fresh food partnership Foodtogether has clocked up its first year of operation out of St Matthew’s Church in Awapuni.
Staffed by volunteers, its notfor-profit fresh vegetable hub operates every Thursday, providing its prepaid customers with food direct from the markets in $12 value and $20 premium orders.
Co-ordinator Kathriona Benvie said Foodtogether was set up in July 2016 with the help of MidCentral’s Public Health Unit.
Along with making fresh fruit and vegetables accessible, its purpose extended to help build and strengthen community networks and reduce social isolation.
‘‘It’s part of our outreach into the community,’’ Benvie said.
Pick-up from the College St church is on Thursdays between 11am and 1pm, but the volunteers are busy long before that breaking down the bulk market delivery and filling bags.
Benvie said they filled 18 orders for people in Pahiatua ‘‘where there are not a lot of options’’, and for people in Foxton.
‘‘There’s a vege hub due to start up in Feilding, and there are hubs that have just started in Whanganui and New Plymouth.’’
It was the sort of enterprise that saw its customers become volunteers.
Rosemary Krsinich and her husband Frank, who are vegans, drove in from Ashhurst every week to pick up their order and decided that if they were making a trip into town, they might as well stay and help out.
‘‘We’re quite into fruit and vege - we get through stacks of this stuff, and [Foodtogether] helps with the cost.’’
Jo Chapple is a church member and oncology nurse at the hospital. Not only does she help pack the orders, she delivers to the hospital for those in the Roslyn, Terrace End and Kelvin Grove areas to pick up.
‘‘As a nurse, I’m keen to see people eating fresh fruit and veges.’’
Occasionally the volunteer pool is strengthened by Awatapu College pupils and members of the special needs community, but Chapple said they could use more helpers, while new customers were always welcome.
Foodtogether is on Neighbourly and Facebook, has a phone order app, and is at foodtogether.co.nz.
Foodtogether volunteer sorters, left, Mellalye Estall and Clare Woodbury.