22 Nov Charity handing out surplus food has big plans following trial programme
Surplus cafe food is being saved from the bin and handed out to those in need by a new charitable organisation.
Inspired by similar groups elsewhere in the country, Katherine Blaney and Rebekah Bell launched On The House – a redistribution programme – to help feed anyone in need of kai.
“There’s no barrier to entry,” Bell said.
“You can rock up just the way you are – you don’t need to be homeless or below a certain wage.”
Cafes wanting to avoid wasted food place items in a container, provided by On The House, which is picked up by volunteers.
The food is then placed on shelves for collection at a temporary location in the New Plymouth Central Business District (CBD) Mondays from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.
On The House is in its trial phase until December 18 but Blaney and Bell said they would certainly return at the start of the new year.
The scheme is open to all.
“It’s a whole range of people,” Blaney said.
“It can be someone who has lost their job and just needs that little bit of help to save some income.”
Bell added: “The food brings people together and that’s how people get helped out.”
Bell, who owns Alchemy Yoga & Wellbeing, had long been inspired by The Free Store – a retail food waste redistribution scheme – in Wellington.
“It started with a table in Civic Square seven years ago,” she said.
“I thought it was such a great concept.”
And Blaney, owner of Assistia online business consultancy, had been in search of a passion project when the pair decided to come together and launch a community-driven organisation connecting perishable food to hungry bellies.
Bell and Blaney watched how the Wellington charity, and a similar one in Palmerston North, operated before putting together a plan of their own.
“We can easily overthink these things and think it’s too hard,” Bell said.
“But it’s about taking action and letting the community shape it.”
Weekly meet-ups are held in a space near Vinyl Countdown in the Powderham St carpark, opposite the TSB Showplace.
Following the trial, the pair would like to see more volunteers and participating cafes with potential for additional collection days and satellite meet-ups in neighbouring communities.
“We want to reach those people who aren’t seen, who feel harshly judged,” Bell said.
“We’re here for the long haul.”