One of the projects our sponsorship funds supported this year is On the House. They are a New Plymouth-based organisation that redistributes surplus food in the community. They are run completely by volunteers at this stage. We provided kickstart funding to help them get up and running as they are a fairly new organisation, having only started their project in November 2017.
Each week on their open day, their volunteers collect excess food from local cafes and eateries and bring it back to their centrally-located (and kindly-donated) distribution space. The collections are done on foot in the CBD and by car in the outer suburbs. From 4:30pm, the food is given, free of charge, to anyone who has patiently lined up to receive it.
This initiative has benefits on a couple fronts - it reduces the amount of perfectly-good food going in the rubbish bin, and it provides meals to those in the community who need it. There are no forms to fill out or questions to answer - one of their foundation values is about distribution without barriers. It doesn't matter if those who access the service are on the benefit, or earning income because ultimately this food was going to be wasted if it wasn't for On the House.
There are several organisations like this in operation throughout New Zealand with the long-running ones based in Wellington (The Free Store) and Palmerston North (Just Zilch). They are all working hard to create communities for people who might otherwise be treated as a "problem to fix."
We're excited that we were able to help get this project off the ground and already they have seen their average weekly numbers grow from the low 20's to nearly 50 people accessing the service each week. And they are saving 200-500 food items each week from the rubbish bin.
If you want to volunteer or make a donation to this community project, check them out on Facebook.