Local food growers, hunger relief charities, restaurants, supermarkets and others involved in the local food industry are being asked to help improve Rotorua's food systems.
Healthy Families Rotorua, Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service and Rotorua Lakes Council are calling a meeting of stakeholders and interested parties to work alongside them to establish a Rotorua food network that will support local business, sustainable farming and affordable access to healthy, locally-grown food for the Rotorua community.
Healthy Families Rotorua health promoter and nutritionist Jasmin Jackson said organisers hoped to bring together individuals and organisations from every area of the local food system including those 'growing, producing, processing, distributing, selling, and giving out' food.
"The food system can seem distant, bewildering and impossible to influence - most of us don't know anything about the food we buy and eat - but by bringing together many people involved in this system, we have the opportunity to improve the food environment of Rotorua through networking, discussion, and taking action together.
"Currently, different aspects of the food system work in isolation and the connection between the producers of our food and consumers is broken. We want to connect all of the people involved."
Ms Jackson said she hoped the network would be able to tap into wasted food supplies and provide people in need with fresh produce.
"We want to hear from diverse groups of people, to learn what their visions for our community's food system are. We are also looking to connect with local growers because if we are able to purchase more food locally, we will be able to reduce the costs of fresh produce to the consumer. Reducing food waste is another goal that we have in mind - and redirecting any edible food to charities and families who can't afford to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables."
The Rotorua Food Network will be one of many local food networks which have recently been formed across New Zealand.
Late last year, the Bay of Plenty Kai Hui built enthusiasm for a united approach to strengthen local food systems with early outcomes that are encouraging.
"The possibilities are unlimited and there are bound to be other projects and initiatives that will come up at a meeting of such a diverse group of people."
The first meeting of the new Rotorua Food Network will be held from 6pm to 8pm tomorrow night at the Waikite Rugby & Sports Club.