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Gizzy Kai Rescue

Every day there are people in Gisborne choosing between feeding themselves and their kids and paying the rent. A year-long project to get a food rescue operation up and running in Gisborne to help them is now operational. Debbie Gregory talked to Gizzy Kai Rescue volunteers . . .

Gizzy Kai Rescue (GKR) is a small group of people passionate about rescuing food that would normally be thrown out.

Operations coordinator Michele Rodriguez Ferrere said the group started rescuing food just over a month ago.

“In the short time we’ve been operating we’ve already rescued and redirected more than 2000 kilograms of food.”

Mrs Rodriguez Ferrere said GKR would not be able to function without its so far small but “awesome” team of volunteers.

“We are always looking for more volunteers so if anyone is interested, we’d love to hear from you.

“We run seven days a week and are looking for both drivers and sorters.

Around 30 percent of the food produced worldwide is never eaten. The world produces enough food to feed all its inhabitants but the problem is distribution.

GKR is a not-for-profit organisation connecting the food industry and local community groups, who redistribute the rescued food to those experiencing “food scarcity”.

GKR only redistributes to its registered community groups and is not a food bank or drop-in centre.

Its vision is “Minimising food waste, nourishing our community”.

“Our mission is to redirect as much nourishment as possible from waste to table.”

Volunteers collect surplus edible food from donors. They deliver it to GKR where it is inspected, sorted, weighed, recorded and stored ready to be picked up by registered community groups.

Participating recipient groups include Supergrans, House of Breakthrough and Te Hapara Family Services so far, but GKR is looking for more groups to register.

Any foods deemed unusable are put aside for compost, worm farming or animal feed.

“Our work allows our community support groups to focus on their core wrap-around services rather than sourcing food for their clients.”

Making a differenceThe project reduces the amount of organic material going to landfill, cutting down the level of carbon emissions and giving a sustainable solution to managing excess food waste.

Mrs Rodriguez Ferrere said it meant food producers, suppliers and vendors could reduce their waste disposal costs, helping them with environmental sustainability and community support goals.

At 26 percent, green waste makes up the largest portion of material entering landfill from the Gisborne community, significantly adding to carbon emissions.

“We will be helping to achieve Gisborne District Council’s long-term-plan target — a 40 percent decrease in organic waste by 2024,” she said.

The idea to develop a food rescue service was the result of a conversation.

“Alena Swannell, who I met through another not for profit organisation, and I got talking one day . . . we’d done a lot of online research on food rescue in NZ and overseas as we’d seen the need for it in our community. However, we’d both decided that it was too much to take on alone, and put it to one side. When we discovered we were both passionate about it, we decided we could do it together.

“We’d been working away on it for a month or so when we asked a mutual friend, Sarah Punnett, if she was keen to come on board. She was, so the three of us have been working on it together ever since.”

Alena is volunteer coordinator and Sarah is treasurer.

“We recently had another addition when Haley Scott joined us as our secretary/administrator.

“We are really excited by the ongoing possibilities that food rescue offers both our community and environment, and look forward to growing our initiative as we gain more donors, recipients and volunteers.”

There has already been positive feedback from recipients, says Mrs Rodriguez Ferrere.

“When one agency took kai around to a client’s house, he said they had saved his life as he was having some extremely dark thoughts. Now that he had food it was easier to cope and made him feel better.”

“A staff member from another organisation said even though this kaupapa had not been going for long, for us to be able to share a resource that normally would have gone to waste has been a godsend for our community.

“The feedback has been huge and humbling.”

In just over three days last week the food Gizzy Kai Rescue gave to one community group was able to help nine families.

“To be able to alleviate some pressure in this way makes a big difference in the lives of families who are usually dealing with adversity and extremely complex situations. They have responded to the offerings afforded by GKR with nothing but gratitude and appreciation.”

Mrs Rodriguez Ferrere said the group was grateful for all the help it had received.

“Along the way we have had many hours of in-kind support from a variety of local professionals, companies working with us for less than standard rates, lots of help and support from friends and whanau, and funding from the Gisborne District Council’s Waste Minimisation Fund, Eastland Community Trust, Community Organisation Grants Scheme and the Lottery Grants Board.

“We also have one local business sponsor, Gisborne Painting Services, although we are looking for more,” she said.

The latest funding ($1970) has come from the fundraising efforts of Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club’s women’s fishing competition.

Another Gisborne business, Integrated Foods Limited, this week gifted GKR nearly 2500 cans of food from its Christmas celebration team-building exercise.

Anyone interested in volunteering or looking for more information can visit Gizzy Kai Rescue facebook page, website www.gizzykairescue.org or email info@gizzykairescue.org

‘MINIMISING FOOD WASTE, NOURISHING OUR COMMUNITY’: That is the vision of Gizzy Kai Rescue’s (from left) Michele Rodriguez Ferrere, Sarah Punnett and Alena Swannell. Pictures by Liam Clayton
Gizzy Kai Rescue’s (from left) Alena Swannell, Michele Rodriguez Ferrere and Sarah Punnett in front of a portion of the 2500 tins of food donated by Integrated Foods Limited.