A successful food rescue programme in Whangārei that distributes surplus food supplied by growers and retailers to those in need has been given a $350,700 boost.

The announcement was made by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage during her visit to Whangārei today and is part of the Government's plan to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills.

The $350,700 from the Ministry for the Environment's Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) will allow the One Double Five Whare Awhina Community House Trust food rescue programme to establish a second warehouse and distribution centre in Moerewa, which will service more communities including Kawakawa, Kaikohe, Kaeo, Kerikeri and surrounding areas.

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In the past year 47,000 tonnes of food has been saved, and 98 per cent has provided more than 30,000 meals.

During the announcement, held at the Open Arms Centre, a new van for the collection and distribution of food was blessed.

"Kai is what sustains us physically and it's what connects us. Meeting around a table and sharing kai connects family and the community," Sage said.

"It's a brilliant initiative to gather kai from supermarkets and businesses, pack it and get it to whānau who need it. Thank you for all the mahi and having the commitment to make the difference here in Whangārei and now in the wider Northland community."

The programme redistributes excess food to distributors such as schools and marae.

Food Rescue manager Peter Nicholas (left) with community development worker Carol Peters and Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. Photo / John Stone John Stone
Food Rescue manager Peter Nicholas (left) with community development worker Carol Peters and Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. Photo / John Stone John Stone

"The funding will allow it to expand in areas where there is need from tamariki to elderly folk alike. It's a tribute to project leader Dr Carol Peters and her entire team," Sage said.

"At the same time it is helping to address our waste problem. It's a win-win-win for everyone."

Food Rescue manager Peter Nicholas said the money broadened the trust's ability to sustain the programme.

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He said about 20 businesses, packhouses and smaller retailers were donating food as well as individuals. About 100 providers delivered food that wasthen distributed to families.

Pataka Kai - or community pantry - were also stocked up with donated food.

In Moerewa, the He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust would be the hub for the programme expansion. The trust had been involved with food rescue since it started but now would be able to source produce from their own providers and distribute to their local network.

Trustee Debbie Davis said there was a real connection between kai and whenua and it was about sharing kai to everyone.

Chanz Rogers will be the contact person for both those wanting to donate and those needing food. Contact him on chanz@heiwi.co.nz