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NZ’s longest-running free store turns six

14 June 2017

New Zealand’s longest-running free store turns six and new research sheds light on users

Established six years ago tomorrow, Just Zilch is a non-profit organisation that rescues food supplies and provides food to the disadvantaged at no cost and with no judgement.

Since its inception, 164,403 individuals have used Just Zilch’s service to access 1,117,356 food items that would otherwise have been dumped. 130,401 family parcels were issued and 190,993 items were distributed to community groups in Palmerston North, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Whanganui and Tararua for distribution.

In all 1,308,349 food items were donated to Just Zilch from food and beverage companies, restaurants and community harvest groups from around the North Island.

Director and Founder, Rebecca Culver says it has been an enormous effort, made easier by hundreds of volunteers over the past six years and the kind and generous support of businesses here in Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu district.

“We live in a very generous community, and Just Zilch is only possible because we have so many generous providers and volunteers. Together, we are focused on creating a society free from hunger by reducing food waste,” says Miss Culver.

The Just Zilch volunteer team will hold a low-key sixth birthday celebration with a birthday cake supplied by Cuba Street Bakehouse – a generous Just Zilch supplier.

YearTotal ItemsTotal UsersAverage daily users
Six (YTD)364,22545,571186.77
Five238, 72633,992141.34

Miss Culver says with ever increasing numbers, comes costs. We are very fortunate to have supporters and recently we launched Friends of Just Zilch – for just $10 a month you can help us cover costs associated with running our store, reducing food waste and helping to end hunger in our community.

We’re also very thankful to our corporate sponsors, Countdown and Obo, for their ongoing support.

Recently, a research project undertaken by three Massey University students has shed light on users of Just Zilch’s services.

“The number of people through our doors continues to grow, and the research backs up what our volunteers see every day and has provided us with valuable feedback that Just Zilch makes on people’s lives,” says Miss Culver.

Of those surveyed, the main reason they come to Just Zilch is that they are finding their money doesn’t stretch as far as it should.

Some of the commentary includes:

• “Things don’t stretch as far as they are supposed to”;

• “Struggling with bills”;

• “Finding it hard being on a pension, especially with looking after grandkids and paying bills”;

• “Can’t afford groceries. It’s a common occurrence that the power bill is higher than what I earn, then I become behind in payments, and I have children to feed”;

• “Not able to live on benefit - $68 after rent”;

The survey found overwhelming support of Just Zilch’s service with 59% positive about service and a further 13% positive about volunteers, alongside this 3.3% made positive comments about reducing food waste.

The largest group to use Just Zilch’s services are Pākehā males aged 30-54 years old. And, 47% of all surveyed live in households where children reside.

36% have used Just Zilch’s service for less than a year, while 33% have used the service for more than two years.

86% said they came to Just Zilch out of need – not enough money.

The survey was of 420 people, 236 males (56%) and 184 females (44%).

More research is being carried out into the needs of the Just Zilch users in a bid to understand the issues affecting them and their families.

Editor’s notes:

Just Zilch has been made possible through the kind support of the following food companies:

Alleyway Lunch Bar, Americold; Aokautere New World; BABCO Woodfired Pizza, Café Royale; Caper’s Café; Central Bakehouse, City Limits Lunch Bar; Coffee on the Terrace; Council Café; Countdown Broadway; Countdown Kelvin Grove; Countdown Rangitikei; Countdown Plaza; Cuba St Bakehouse; DKSH NZ Ltd; Donut King; Ernest Adams, Goodman Fielder; LA Bakery and Coffee Lounge, Lion Co; Lush, Morgan Laurenson Ltd; Marbecks; Not Now James; Petit Fours; Pioneer New World; Robert Harris Café; Rumour Hast It; Stage Door Café; Sushi Muma, Taste Buds Lunch Bar, TIL Freight, The Bread Lover; The Verdict Café; The Warehouse; Thorne Coffee and Thorne Coffee 2; Wholegrain Organic and Yummy Mummy’s.

Just Zilch often receives more food than it can handle. Excess food is provided to the following organisations:

Awapuni Kindergarten; Just Life; Luck Venue; Te Aroha Noa; Red Cross Refugee Services; Reformed Church; Harrison St Community Church – Whanganui; Activate Church; Christians Against Poverty; YMCA; YOSS; MUOCF; St David; Life Church; Financial Freedom; Kind Hearts Movement; Milson Kindergarten; Salt; Land Based Training; Salvation Army Men's Hostel; Women’s Refuge; Te Roopu Whakaruruha; Salvation Army – Foxton; Little Monkeys; ACROSS; St Oswald’s; New Wine; Baptist Youth Hostel; Ruahine Kindergarten; Camellia House; Summerset Kindergarten; Longburn School; Volunteer Resource Centre; Homebase – NZDF; Takaro Kindergarten; Ablaze; Manchester House – Feilding; Shepherds Rest; Agape; Open Home Foundation; Legacy Centre; Hosanna Baptist Church – Dannevirke; House of Breakthrough; Human Aid Focus; Gathering Stream Church; Youth Space; Worship Centre Palmerston North; P-Flag; Mash Trust; Feilding Bible Chapel; Nga Tamariki O Aotearoa; Brickhouse.

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