28,570 meals! That’s a lot of hungry bellies filled, and the amount of food that Kaivolution food rescue programme in Hamilton collects and redistributes each month.

It’s the equivalent 10,000kg of food every month that would otherwise be headed for landfill. Since it started, less than two years ago, Kaivolution has rescued 117 tonnes of food. 

Kaivolution is run by the Waikato Environment Centre. It was set up in October 2014, following a study initiated by Trust Waikato and other local funders, to see if there was scope for such a service in the Waikato. The answer was a resounding ‘Yes’. Kaivolution now regularly collects excess food from 43 donors, redistributing it to 60 recipient groups across the Waikato.  

The way the service works is simple. Food is collected from donors, ranging from supermarkets and bulk food distributors and producers, to local cafes. Kaivolution’s 65 volunteers then weigh and sort it, ready for collection by community and non-profit groups, who redistribute the food to people in need in their community. Some groups prepare meals from the food, others pass it on for people to prepare in their own homes. Either way, it gets eaten.

Environment centre general manager, Ruth Seabright, says demand for the rescued food continues to grow.

“We expanded our service last year, but we’re already reached the capacity of what we can collect and store. We’ve got a waiting list of donors wanting to give us their food, and there’s always people happy to receive it. Kaivolution food goes to all corners of the Waikato, from Tokoroa, Thames and Raglan, to Huntly and Ngaruawahia, and of course Hamilton.”

To meet demand, Kaivolution is looking to secure a larger warehouse, and more refrigerated vehicles.

“No-one wants to see food that people need go to waste,” says Ruth. 

Trust Waikato is pleased to have supported Kaivolution’s journey so far, through support for the feasibility study and a $40,000 donation in 2015 towards operating costs. A further $90,000 was donated in 2016 towards its food rescue programme and ongoing costs.  

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