Aotearoa’s food rescue coordinator, the New Zealand Food Network has been awarded $440,000 in Government funding to install more chillers and freezers in its storage facilities, increasing the capacity to handle surplus and donated food. The extra storage space will allow NZFN to divert an additional 1,100 tonnes of edible food from landfill and into communities in need.
The New Zealand Food Network is a not-for-profit organisation, founded to provide people in need with healthy food, through sharing bulk surplus and donated food. Since its launch in July 2020, the NZFN has prevented more than 17 million kgs CO2-equivalent being produced from food being sent to landfill and provided the equivalent of 32 million meals to food hubs around the country.
The expansion is supported by The Waste Minimisation Fund, which is administered by the Ministry for the Environment. Additional support is from pre-approved Ministry of Social Development funding.
Gavin Findlay, NZFN CEO, says “Vast amounts of edible chilled and frozen food products are sent to landfill every year by food organisations and producers across the country. There are lots of reasons for this, but the primary reason is that there’s no single entity that can handle these large quantities. “Many businesses are willing to donate this surplus food to communities in need but it’s simply too complex and time consuming to find homes for these products, so it’s sent to landfill”, says Findlay.
“The New Zealand Food Network was set up to provide the food production and manufacturing industry with a solution for surplus edible food. This support from the Ministry for the Environment will provide real progress to reducing New Zealand’s commercial food waste and our overall carbon footprint. At the same time, it will improve food security by rediverting this surplus food into our vulnerable communities”, says Findlay.
The NZFN currently supports 61 food hubs (food rescue organisations, iwi, foodbanks and charities). Through this expansion, the NZFN aims to support an additional 10-15 food hubs throughout the country.
“Increasing our storage capacity will allow us to target a broader range of food items, especially within the protein sector, which is highly valued by our food hubs,” adds Findlay.