In the aftermath of devastating weather events, the New Zealand Food Network and its nationwide network of food charities and businesses have banded together to feed impacted families across the North Island. NZFN CEO Gavin Findlay talks about their relief efforts in some of the most affected areas and how your business could make a real difference.

This year the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) turns three, and over those years we’ve seen Aotearoa plagued by a pandemic, skyrocketing inflation, and now devastating weather events. But with the help of the Government, businesses and charities, we have also been able to establish a remarkable network for receiving and distributing donations to those directly impacted by these crises.

NZFN exists to address the dual problems of food waste and food insecurity, and this summer has seen our services needed more than ever.

The unwelcome visit from Cyclone Gabrielle, one of the biggest weather events to hit our country in decades, came just weeks after the Auckland Anniversary floods. It was thanks to generous support from the private and public sector, including iwi and our amazing team of volunteers, that we were in a position to spring into action and get immediate food relief to the most devastated regions.

What we have achieved so far with corporate support…

....in donations

Additional funding from the Ministry for Social Development and the collaboration of businesses has enabled us to contribute to the relief efforts by not only getting provisions to those on the front line, but helping them store and transport food more effectively so they are not overrun with stock.

So far, our partner donors have generously donated 155,840 kilograms (and counting) of food and essential items, including the equivalent of 334,708 meals going to those affected in these regions. A special thank you to Fonterra, which donated 83 pallets of dairy products, weighing 54,000kg, and Sanitarium, which donated the equivalent of nearly 244,568 servings of much-needed breakfast kai. We are forever grateful for the goodwill and corporate responsibility shown by these and many other donors to help Kiwis in their hour of need.

Nestle, Reckitt, Zespri and Countdown also dug deep to offer sizeable product or financial donations to NZFN so we could purchase supplies on their behalf.

…in Hawke’s Bay

Immediately following the cyclone, NZFN teamed up with the Tauranga Aero Club to send food into Wairoa on multiple aircraft, and we were able to get emergency food into remote and unreachable areas such as Ruatoria.

In that first week, we also worked with Rapid Relief Team and Farmland Foods to deliver much-needed food to Hawke’s Bay via Palmerston North, while Fonterra delivered product on our behalf to Nourished for Nil and marae in Hastings, for distribution in the wider region.

Nelson-based NZFN food hub Kai with Love sent pallets of their own donated supplies of frozen fish up to Hawkes Bay (plus Gisborne and Coromandel) to support the flood relief, with their 3PL freight provider transporting it for free.

…in Tairāwhiti Gisborne

To get much-needed food into the area, NZFN teamed up with NZ Post on February 21 to deliver pallets to food hubs like SuperGrans using the spare space in their trucks, and have done so regularly since then.

In the days immediately following the cyclone, we liaised with Service Foods Gisborne’s depot to purchase and deliver product directly to SuperGrans, which distributed it across the region, catering for 9,500 displaced individuals. Service Foods Gisborne also donated additional storage space to hold all of this stock.

Fonterra helped us out once again by carrying product in a convoy to Tairāwhiti, and we later sent nine pallets of food and water to Whenuapai airport, which was then flown into the region.

…and the help of iwi

We’ve been working closely with East Cape and Tairāwhiti iwi Ngāti Porou, who distributed food throughout their tribal lands and moved additional stock from Ōpōtiki to Ruatoria. Much-needed food was also donated to Iwi Tapu Outreach in Auckland, which had secured free transport from Mainfreight to get supplies down to Hawke’s Bay.

So, where do you come in?

With its finger on the pulse across its network, NZFN has been central to co-ordinating the response for its frontline food hubs in the worst-stricken areas.

But now we need to make a special plea to the corporate sector to keep rebuilding these communities. We need everyone’s help to meet this new demand. The power of businesses working in partnership at times like this is immense and we are calling on businesses from all sectors to step up and make a difference.

What surplus or edible stock can your business spare? Do you have transportation or storage facilities to offer? Or even generous funds that we can use to purchase the things these communities desperately need?

Our mahi is far from done. By working with NZFN, your business will find a place within an expansive and passionate network of like-minded organisations committed to helping those who need it most.

Opinion piece featured by the NZ Herald online

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