Rotorua's Love Soup is about more than just providing hot soup to the homeless. Now, with a new focus, the award-winning volunteer organisation is relaunching with a new purpose.
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For six years, Rotorua's Love Soup has been at the forefront of feeding and helping the city's homeless.
From tomorrow, the organisation will continue to do that, but under a different name and in a new way.
Love Soup is changing its name to Rotorua Whakaora, which means connecting food to the community.
Instead of holding regular sit down cooked meals for the homeless at its hall on the corner of Otonga Rd and Devon St, it will instead distribute large amounts of donated food to communities.
Gina and Elmer Peiffer, who run the volunteer organisation, said the new name reflected their change in focus.
For a long time, Love Soup has given more to the community than just hot soup. It has provided three-course cooked meals, it has helped house more than 400 families, it has set them up in homes with furniture and clothing and has provided ongoing support in navigating social services.
The organisation has won several accolades for its service including a Kiwibank Local Hero award last year.
Love Soup was started by Julie King in Tokoroa with the help of the Peiffers and it was originally planned to have a branch in every part of New Zealand. King went on to set up branches in Hibiscus Coast and Whangarei while the Peiffers moved to Rotorua and set it up here.
Despite having the same name, they have always operated individually.
Gina Peiffer said, since Covid-19, Love Soup's focus had changed as all the homeless had been put in motels. They no longer needed to feed them each day and instead were sourcing and distributing food packages to different communities.
Elmer Peiffer said they had gone from providing up to 60 meals a week to instead giving out about 500 bags of food and produce each week that would potentially reach up to 2000 people in need.
During lockdown, five volunteers within Love Soup have been packaging food donated to them by suppliers such as Countdown, Turners and Growers, Bid Food, Kiwi Harvest, Fair Food and other bakeries around the city.
Elmer said the food from Countdown was items deemed not "shop worthy", but "definitely" still edible. Other items were nearing the best before dates.
Different community contacts from Koutu, Mokoia, Fordlands and Mamaku then come to collect the packages at allocated times to distribute to their communities.
They said once they were into the swing of level 2, they would post a new timetable on their Rotorua Whakaora Facebook page.
"Since Covid, we have seen the number of people accessing our food triple, even more. Food security is vital and it's only going to get worse. We are seeing everyone, from young and old and new people who have lost jobs recently."
Gina said for some, 80 per cent of their income was spent on rent and often food was left until last.
"They found it hard before Covid, but this has just magnified it."