NZMA and KiwiHarvest feed thousands with unwanted food

Perfectly good food destined for the rubbish dump is feeding society’s most vulnerable people. But this is no collection of discarded food gathered from rummaging through bins in dank, dark alleyways. These are healthy meals prepared by some of Auckland’s best up-and-coming chefs.

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Students from New Zealand Management Academies (NZMA) joined forces with Kiwi Harvest to help cook and distribute almost six tonnes of collected food throughout Auckland.

Kiwi Harvest manager Maria Madill says this is the equivalent of 15,000 meals. “All of this food would have ended up in the rubbish but now it’s food for people in the community,” she says. “Between 500 and 700 meals will be prepared while the rest has already been donated to various charities.”

The 5.7 tonnes of perishable and non perishable food was collected on April 8 following the Foodstuff Expo. There was nothing physically wrong with the food, but because it had been on display it could no longer be sold to the public. “It’s all about getting food to the right place,” Madill says.

Students spent two days furiously cooking the meals which were delivered to community kitchens in Manurewa, Ranui and Hillsborough on April 13.

The organisations began working together in October 2015 and deliver meals to Auckland charities every four to five weeks. NZMA culinary arts campus manager Jasbir Kaur says the task works as the perfect training exercise. “This gives all our culinary students actual experience, not only to help them learn how to cook for large groups of people but think on their feet as well,” she says. “It also helps develop a sense of social responsibility. We can see what it means to people, food is about sharing and bringing people together.”

Madill says the regular donations also help charities funnel their money to other urgent services. “This is a hand up, not a hand out,” she says. “It’s the first port of call to break the psychological barrier for people to talk with each other and work through their issues.

Article originally published at Stuff.co.nz