Food going to landfills is a global issue, say a local Whanganui action group, Kai Ora. Almost a third of all food produced goes to waste, they say, and Whanganui also has similar problems.
"In Whanganui alone 3 million kg a year, just in Whanganui, which is roughly 1.5kg per person every day," organiser Joe Thompson said.
Landfills struggle to process organic matter efficiently. Anaerobic conditions mean the millions of tonnes of food can't break down into compost. Instead it produces methane gas which, according to Ministry for Primary Industries figures, is 26 times more detrimental as a greenhouse gas, than carbon dioxide.
In an effort to change that, Kai Ora Whanganui has formed a food rescue organisation to develop a kai hub, diverting food going to landfill.
With support from Whanganui District Council and the community, the organisers recently completed a feasibility study looking at better ways to deal with Whanganui's perishable food waste.
"At a systematic level in our society we're structured in a way that encourages businesses and households to throw it in the bin because it's the cheapest quickest option," Thompson said.
The group recently invited the community to a "feasible feast" where they cooked, fed and redistributed 80kg of food, all collected from local businesses. The Kai Hub is an idea they would like to continue and expand on.
"We want to collect that food, have it as a redistribution centre that's inviting and thriving and full of life," organiser Julie Crocker said. "With a commercial kitchen where we can prepare some of the perishable foods into a community meal once a week."
Crocker said it would be "a place of reciprocity" where the public learns to cook or pass on their own cooking skills."
The group would like to expand beyond dinners but more assistance and funding would be required for buildings, vehicles and other costs, they say.
"In other places, in other spaces around Aotearoa and the world, they're vibrant places where lots of people can come together from all different walks of life. It's not 'waste food for waste people'. We are all involved in the system that currently is throwing away resources and we can all be part of the solution.
"It's been recognised in New Zealand that there needs to be more action and that's where it's really exciting that the waste minimisation at central government level and at local levels is now focusing on the two streams, construction waste and organics which is the biggest methane production in the waste stream."
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