The Hastings depot temporarily closed on Mondays because of food shortages.
As food prices continue to climb, more people than ever are visiting Hastings’ food rescue organisation – Nourished for Nil.
Last month, the organisation had its biggest night ever, with 371 people coming to collect food.
Nikki Gardner, sustainability and logistics officer from Nourished for Nil, has noticed the increase.
“It’s gone from about 250 [people] to over 300,” she said. “We have a lot of working poor in Hastings. They work 40 hours plus a week but face expensive food and rent.”
Kate Vaningan has been coming to Nourished for Nil since 2017, when it first started. She noticed more people are coming to collect food this year.
“The queues are longer. You can see a lot more families. They need help. Every little bit of help matters.”
For many Hastings locals, Nourished for Nil has become a lifeline.
Hastings resident Il’ya Sorkin said, “I get a lot of free food for my family. It’s just a great way to save money.”
“Since I’ve been here, it’s been a huge help,” said another Hastings resident, Leigh August.
Sharron Dodunski said: “Things are getting tough and tighter. And this is a way to feed ourselves, then pay the rest of the bills.”
As well as helping those who need it, the food being shared is being diverted away from the landfill.
The food for Nourished for Nil is donated by big factories, supermarkets, farmers, catering companies, and anyone with extra or leftover food.
“It’s really good that the community supports us so well,” Gardner said. “They also don’t want food to be in the landfill. So, they’re more than happy to donate it.”
Nourished for Nil has been operating since 2017 and distributes food multiple times a week. The current four depots are in Hastings, Napier, Flaxmere and Camberley.
Over the past five years, it’s rescued and redistributed over four million kilograms of food. But the increasing demand for its services has placed pressure on the organisation, with a potential food shortage coming soon.
“If we don’t have enough food, we try to put out the carrots first and then move on to the broccoli. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
This year’s bad weather in Hawke’s Bay has also been problematic. Many farmers missed the window to plant due to the wet winter, so crop prices will go up and food donations will go down.
“I know that one of the pick houses will reduce 20 employees next year, and another company will close down,” Gardner said,
“As a ripple effect, what they usually would donate to us won’t be happening. We’ll get much fewer products donated.”
The Hastings Depot used to be open for food collecting on Mondays, but it temporarily closed two months ago because of a lack of food.
“If we can get enough food, it will reopen Monday night in Hastings,” Gardner said.
Food donations are accepted at the Hastings depot at 1004 Karamu Road on weekdays, but the address will change from the 16th of January when they move to 513 Queen Street, Hastings.