The word on the street was that the doors to a new food charity house in Levin were going to open at 4pm.

But there was at least 20 people in a queue outside Hope Kete in Kent Street well before that.

Hope Kete is the name given to a new free food stall that opened for the first time this week, part of a nationwide network that had sprouted up around New Zealand since the outbreak of Covid-19.

A similar organisation in Palmerston North called Just Zilch had reported a lot of people from Levin were travelling for food parcels, and that they should consider setting up shop in Levin.

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Hope Kete volunteer and administrator Karen Morley said the vision was to get food that was being wasted or thrown out, but was still perfectly edible, and make it available to anyone that might need food.

Karen Morley and Tania Machuca both volunteer at Hope Kete in Kent Street, Levin.
Karen Morley and Tania Machuca both volunteer at Hope Kete in Kent Street, Levin.

Morley said they had advertised the opening on social media and she was surprised herself to see the queue at the door.

"There is a need in the community. It's sad aye," she said.

"The goal is to get excess food in the community and distribute it. There is so many people struggling at the moment."

There were no names taken or questions asked. Morley said Hope Kete was not there to judge anybody or to conduct means testing, they just wanted to circulate food to anyone that might be hungry because they couldn't afford food.

Volunteers at Hope Kete worked hard to keep the details of clientele anonymous, but they were required to take names due to their Covid-19 contact tracing obligations.

Otherwise, the only statistics they took were how many people used Hope Kete and how many food items they could provide each week.

Morley said local businesses had been hugely supportive. There was one business that had pledged to supply 60kg of pork every week until the end of the year.

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New World in Levin wanted to support Hope Kete with surplus stock and anything that had past a best before date, but was still perfectly safe to digest.

Morley said often it was giving food that might have ended up in a landfill or a pig farm a second life by filling a need in the community.

"These bags of rice expired in April, but there is nothing wrong with them," she said.

"We are trying to eliminate food waste."

Hardship that existed for some people in the community had been magnified since the outbreak of Covid-19, she said.