Nourished for Nil
Christina McBeth and friends redistribute tonnes of waste food in Hawke’s Bay every week.
Food waste really irks me. I met another woman who felt equally passionate about it, Louise Saurin, and we decided to do something about it.
In February 2017, we went to all the cafes between Hastings and Havelock North and asked if they had leftover food at the end of the day they would be willing to donate. It started with bread, buns and sweet things. Now we take food waste of all types -- anything from one or two tonnes a day, up to six or seven -- from supermarkets, cool stores and catering companies.
We get a lot of raw materials and we get stuff that has already been prepared. As long as it’s been made in a commercial kitchen, we can take any prepared food. If food has been in someone's pantry and it’s unopened, we can also take that. We get pallets from Wattie’s and McCain’s and we have several local produce distributors as well.
Ours is a sustainability model rather than a poverty model. We are open for an hour every weekday and encourage anyone to come in and bring a bag, and they can get a share of what we have on offer that day. We get a lot of seasonal workers who are working in the vineyards and apple orchards, and for them it's an absolute godsend because they are living on a shoestring budget. We have a special hour for seniors each week which is really popular as well.
We have a big contingent of repeat customers; some people come once a week, some once a fortnight. We supply a lot of kindergartens and schools, the police come from time to time to get bundles from us, and there are camps, youth groups.
In our first year we were open for 10 months, rescued 79 tonnes of food and 29,000 people come through our doors. We rescued 327 tonnes of food in 2018 and gave it to 49,000 people. This year we have passed the 500 tonne mark.
For me the best thing has been the community that has grown around it. There are 15 to 20 of us and we are really tight. We are all ages, that's the gorgeous thing. There is always a spirit of kindness if someone is in need.
My partner used to live with one of the Nourished for Nil volunteers and I was on their Facebook page, so I could see what they were doing and I thought it was a pretty good idea. Once we moved into our own home, I went down to the Nourished for Nil depot and it had a really nice atmosphere. Everyone is lovely. Even the people waiting in line seemed excited and all the volunteers were happy and chirpy.
I have been going to the depot at least once a week ever since. It is always busy., I try to get there early and when I look back the line is always out the door. There are all walks of life when you go in there, always some new people, and then there are those familiar faces you see each week that you say hi to.
I pick up vegetables — they usually have broccoli and potatoes — and meat. They have some fascinating sausage varieties, some with feta inside and ones I would never think to buy or are a bit out of my price-range. They had nashi pears one time; I was pretty stoked as I hadn't had one of those since school days. I might get bread; they usually have French sticks and I make garlic bread when I get home.
And at the end you get a little treat for yourself. They will have little donuts or cakes and sandwiches, and you can eat it then and there.
Nourished for Nil has saved us a decent amount of money, I’d say at least $20 a week. It’s now a regular part of my week. We live in Napier, and when I am in Hastings I try to be there around 4pm so I can pop in.
I have got a four-year-old and a baby who doesn't eat yet and my partner, so we don't need a big pumpkin or a huge bag of potatoes. I like being able to get small quantities of things, so I don't waste money on items that we couldn’t get through in a week.