Countdown sets up new fund for food rescue operations

Kiwis struggling to feed their families are set to get a further helping hand from one of New Zealand’s largest supermarket chains.

Countdown is setting aside $100,000 of its profits to create a contestable fund that will be available to food rescue operations.

Currently the supermarket chain donates food that is still fit for consumption to charities through the Countdown Food Rescue programme.

Not including include customer donations, it donated $3.5 million worth of food throughout the country last year – about 509 tonnes of food.

There was a growing need for foodbanks and funding was a barrier to them growing, he said.

“Funds will be focused on supporting our food rescue partners to build capacity and support Countdown’s goal of ensuring any surplus food isn’t wasted and goes to New Zealanders in need.”

Countdown will be working through the details during the next month, with a view to opening the fund as soon as possible after that, he said.

Kaibosh managing director Matt Dagger believed the funding would prove a relief for the sector and would be useful for his Wellington-based organisation.

It was challenging to secure funding in a competitive philanthropic environment.

To stay in operation, the organisation applied for grants and relied on fundraising and financial support from donors but these were often one-off, he said.

“Long-term sustainable funding is hard to find. Nothing is guaranteed from year-to-year.”

Kiwi Harvest manager Maria Madill said Auckland’s perishable food rescuers had been operating for 18 months and had had redirected 432,000 meals to those struggling in communities.

New funding would help to expand its services, she said.

A significant amount of the rescued food was fruit and vegetables that came from Countdown stores.

“Donating food for human consumption puts food on the table for families in need and diverts food waste from landfills. Together with the financial and social benefits, food rescue also has enormous benefits for the environment.”

Food Safety and Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew, attended a recent food rescue summit in Wellington, where a number of organisations got together with Countdown to discuss challenges and opportunities.

“Tackling the issue of reducing food waste in New Zealand required government, industry, and the community sectors to work together to create innovative solutions and to educate the public, she said.

Encouraging businesses to donate food, rather than waste it [Food Act 2014 ] protected people who donated safe food in good faith.

This has enabled community organisations and food businesses to run food rescue programmes safely and legally, she said.

There was also funding available for community groups through the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, which had provided more than $40,000 of funding to food rescue organisations in the last financial year, she said.

“New Zealand was fortunate to have a strong network of community organisations and volunteers who made sure that safe and high-quality surplus food was not thrown away, but instead reached those who need it most.

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