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Food right there for the taking

Ewen Cameron, Bev Wood, Nola Chasland, and Jo Hayes at the Lyndale Care food share pantry. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

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A Masterton rest home is sending out a reminder to the Wairarapa community that their food share pantry is still ‘open for business’, and that there’s plenty of food to go around.

Lyndale Care, tucked into Coradine St, just off Cole St in Masterton, officially opened its food share pantry on March 5, 2019.

The idea came from Lyndale Care diversional therapist Jo Hayes, who had seen similar concepts throughout Wairarapa.

It was also the last legacy of master builder and Rotarian Mervyn Brown, who died on November 5, 2018.

Since then, it had become a food sharing haven where anyone from the community could drop off surplus produce or foodstuffs and pick up something else for the table at the same time.

However, in recent times, while the pantry continued to be filled, the takers had been nowhere to be seen.

Hayes said one of the partial reasons for the decline in people coming for food was possibly linked to covid-19 fears.

“Although we don’t monitor how often people come to get food here, we’ve noticed there has been a bit of a decline in numbers,” she said.

“I just think since covid-19, when people didn’t socialise as much being wary of community transition, it may have caused them to have a reluctance to come here.”

Hayes, who said the food pantry was used a lot more pre-covid-19, wanted to highlight that the food pantry was not a food bank and that the aim of the concept was to bring people together in the spirit of sharing.

“This is not the food bank,” she said.

“This is the food share pantry, and you don’t have to be in need to use our cupboard.

“It’s not aimed at a specific group, there’s no label on it. We just want to have the interaction with the community and our residents, so they feel a part of it.”

She also mentioned the residents who purposely grow vegetables and fruit for the food pantry were always feeling disappointed when food wasn’t getting used.

“[The residents] grow the vegetables, they harvest them, then they put them out there,” she said.

“Since [the food pantry] opened that has inspired them to put up a shade house to keep up with the vegetable garden, and we’ve just put in an orchard that we’re hoping in years to come we will share that fruit.

“For them to go back out the next day and see the food gone, they feel like they’ve accomplished what they set out to do.

“Food won’t always last so if [food] isn’t used, it gets disposed of which in the end disappoints the residents who put them in.

“They’re in a rest home, but we’re pushing the value that they’re never too old to still contribute to society in a worthwhile way where they’re making a difference to someone else’s life, they can still give.”

Hayes hoped numbers to the food pantry, as well as contributions and takings, would turn over quickly.

“The aim is to see it turned over with people always coming in for the food.

“If you’re just after a lemon or a cucumber, you don’t need to go to the shop, come check us out first.”

“Even if you can contribute, that doesn’t mean you can’t take.

“We want it gone. We want it taken.”

The food share pantry has and is open to all types of food, whether that be canned food, packet food, and boxed food.

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