Community Kai in Kāpiti
by Vanessa Crowe, Sustainable Communities Coordinator
“Love Food Hate Waste”, is a campaign launched earlier this year, to raise awareness and change behaviours around food waste. According to recent research collectively New Zealanders are throwing away approximately $900 million worth of food, or $560 per household. This totals about 120,000 tonnes of food annually, enough to feed about 260,000 people. These alarming statistics are a wake-up call. In Kāpiti people are becoming more in tune with what’s being thrown in the bin and interesting new ways to prevent food waste have started to emerge.
Established earlier this year in Wellington, Social Pantry is an online initiative whose goal is to eradicate hunger in New Zealand through social action. Currently operating via community Facebook groups, Social Pantry uses the connectivity potential of social media to make it easy and accessible for people to be generous and give what they don’t need to those who do. People can make posts of things that they have on offer, those in need can reply or private message to accept. The system works effectively because it mimics the process of buying and selling online, however in this case there is no exchange of money or otherwise.
“It provides a practical and accessible way to give and be helped in relation to one’s own situation.” say David Cross, the founder who is pleasantly surprised to see it is growing just as he had hoped. There has so far been outstanding displays of generosity, with people grocery shopping for the specific purpose of giving food away and completing online grocery shopping to be delivered to other people’s homes, baking, making school lunches, freezing left overs and making an hour long round trip to help someone out. The individuality of the exchange also has enormous value, showing people that even if they feel like no one cares about them or their situation, there are strangers who will go out of their way to show them they are loved and cared for. Meanwhile people can give according to their ability and at their convenience.
Since its launch multiple groups in different locations have popped up, including Social Pantry Kāpiti. At a similar time former Greener Neighbourhoods participant Helen Heath recently launched another Facebook group, Pāekākākriki Kai. She wanted to find a way to help ensure that no one, particularly children were going hungry. After it was initially established, Helen noticed that there seemed to be an imbalance with more people having things to give than those taking up offers, perhaps because there was a perception that there were others in greater need. So the group changed to have more an emphasis on minimising waste through the exchange of excess food amongst its members, where there was not expectation of a trade or money to be exchanged.
While online you can also check out the individual efforts of local blogger Amy Helm, who gave up ‘having it all’ to live a slower, simpler life. In doing so she provides some inspiration and guidance on how to avoid food waste.
Meanwhile off the computer and further up the line in Ōtaki, Seasonal Surplus is in full swing. A Transitional Town initiative, where a stall is set up each Thursday on Main St in the town centre, at 10:30am producers are invited to sell their excess produce to the stall, which is sold on to the public from 11am onwards. Any left overs are given to a community group.