The New Zealand Food Network has today announced the official opening of a second warehouse and distribution centre – in Christchurch, helping to provide an even greater level of support for food insecure communities throughout the region and beyond.
One year on from the start of New Zealand’s nationwide lockdown, many Kiwis are still grappling with the financial impact of COVID-19 related job losses, redundancies and reduced hours – and the sharp increase in national food insecurity levels that came with that first lockdown has been largely sustained.
Canterbury has been one of New Zealand’s hardest hit regions, with COVID-19 compounding challenges created by the 2011 earthquakes and subsequent recovery efforts. In fact, an analysis of 2018 census data reveals that, even prior to the pandemic, the Canterbury region suffered from some of the highest deprivation levels of anywhere in New Zealand.
The impact of long-term border closures has also been felt particularly sharply by communities throughout Otago and Southland, as many businesses, once heavily reliant on international tourism, have been left struggling to stay afloat.
New Zealand Food Network CEO, Gavin Findlay, says, “The opening of our Christchurch operation will enable us to better serve these hard-hit communities in a number of ways.
“The geographic proximity means we’ll be able to respond more quickly to requests for food from food hubs around the region – providing more immediate support for communities in need. It will also enable us to tap into much-needed additional supplies from food donors throughout the South Island, that we’ve previously been unable to collect from our Auckland site.
The NZFN acts as New Zealand’s food rescue facilitator, collecting and safely storing bulk food donations, with food then able to be requested on an as-needed basis (and at no cost) by approximately 40 food hubs around the country, without compromising their existing supply channels. Since its establishment in May 2020, it has rescued and redistributed over 2,000,000 kilos of food and provided over 5,700,000 meal equivalents.
The NZFN relies on a generous community of food donors to supply not only surplus and rescued food, which would otherwise go to landfill – but also bulk donations of good quality product.
As a comprehensive and streamlined solution to connect supply and demand, the NZFN helps to eliminate the issue faced by many community organisations of a lack of on-site storage infrastructure, which can often see them having to turn away large food donations. The amount of food made available to any single organisation depends on supply, the levels of deprivation or food insecurity in the communities they serve, coupled with their storage capacity.
Any food donor or food hub wishing to find out more about becoming involved in the Network should get in touch via www.nzfoodnetwork.org.nz.