A group of locals is working hard to reduce food waste and ensure people in need have enough to eat.
Waste Not Want Not, a local food rescue organisation set to launch in June, aims to make a change in the Whakatane community by rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste and redirecting it to those who need it most.
Founder Janene Maguire and her team have been working with local businesses including New World and PAK'nSAVE, to provide fresh produce, which would otherwise go to waste.
They are also engaging with local community groups that could benefit to ensure that they have access to the service.
“Our goal is simple. We want to create a more sustainable community by rescuing edible food and redistributing it to community members and groups.
“The drive of this has foremost been waste, I’ve always had an interest in waste. Through the job I have we produce quite a bit of waste and it’s been a logistical nightmare dealing with it.
“Every year in New Zealand $872 million of food goes to waste. In the Eastern Bay 36 per cent of our waste is what they call ‘wet food’. This happens for various reasons, but some of this food should be feeding Eastern Bay of Plenty families, not going to landfills.”
Janene hopes it’s a service the whole community will make use of.
“Anyone and everyone, no questions asked can come and help themselves to a supply of fresh edible food.
“When I heard about other food rescue groups I decided Whakatane could well and truly support something like this, given there are people out there who not only need food but don’t put their hand up.
“It would be nice if they felt they could come in and grab some food to help with their evening meal.
“We’re going to share recipes, especially if we get surplus supplies of certain items. We’ll also encourage the donors to share their family recipes and we’ll have those recipes running for the week.”
Janene says it’s been a true community effort bringing it all together.
“I feel very lucky, pretty much no one has said ‘no’ to offering us help.
“New World, Pak’n’Save and Four Square have been huge supporters, alongside two fruit and vegetable outlets Fresh Market and Fresh Grocer and we have further support from Whakatane Organics, local cafes and Bin Inn.
“Ocean Ford are giving us a van, Law Creative are doing sign writing, Mann Printing are handling any printing we need and Caltex is providing petrol.”
The initiative has also gained support from Pou Whakaaro, CREW, Boomerang Bags, Crop Swap, and The Events Network Trust, who together with Waste Not Want Not will open a drop-in service allowing the community to pick up fresh food for the evenings meal.
Janene says she hopes the initiative will grow.
“We can definitely build on this. There’s the potential to start a restaurant or take our services into schools, so this is certainly only the first stepping stone.”
The service will start on June 6 and operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-5pm at Pou Whakaaro’s Community Centre, 2 Bracken Street in Whakatane.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own reusable shopping bags or containers.