KiwiHarvest Expands Food Relief Network To Support Communities In Otago Impacted By COVID-19.
New Zealand’s largest dedicated food rescue organisation is expanding its service network across the Otago region in response to an increase in demand for food relief services in recent months (as much as 200% increase in some areas). KiwiHarvest sees this increase as an indicator of the pressure put on Otago residents facing one of the largest declines in international visitors in decades, with tourism spending down 15%.
The boost to the food rescue and redistribution network is supported by a $50,000 grant provided by science-based technology company 3M, providing the equivalent of an estimated 190,000 meals to individuals and families over the next 12 months as the tourism industry copes with the global impacts of COVID-19.
Gavin Findlay, CEO of KiwiHarvest, highlights the importance of investment in the hard-hit region, as reducing food insecurity will allow frontline agencies to concentrate on other critical issues. “Food insecurity is a direct result of a number of factors affecting individuals, families or communities. At present, the economic impact on the low- to middle-income earners in these communities has been significant. Additional support from companies operating in New Zealand, such as 3M, is vital and gratefully received.”
The grant will support the addition of a KiwiHarvest truck and driver to service the Otago region, including Queenstown and Dunedin. It will also enable the incorporation of the Wanaka and Cromwell area, further expanding the reach to those in need as well as the opportunity for farmers with excess crops to participate in the food rescue program and help avoid food spoilage.
“In the Queenstown region, our plan is to bring services to the wider area such as Wanaka and Cromwell and increase our overall throughput by 400%,” said Findlay. “In Dunedin, we’d also like to achieve an aggressive goal of 200% increase in food throughput and envelop the Gore and Invercargill communities so we can be present in times of demand.”
In Queenstown, the expansion will also see an increase in administration, sorting and packing employees. In Dunedin, an investment in material handling equipment and storage facilities will provide the ability for KiwiHarvest to achieve their throughput goal.
The generous grant from 3M aligns with the organisation’s commitment to improving lives through innovation and action. Chris LeBlanc, Managing Director of 3M Australia and New Zealand says “It’s important that 3M holds true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting our communities and improving lives. Throughout this global crisis, we will continue to look for ways to help in the fight against COVID-19. We hope our contribution will make a difference to the communities affected in these hard-hit regions.”