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Record rescues put food on table

New World Masterton staff members Justin Harman and Rik Muir with Waiwaste volunteer Liz Toki. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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It’s been a record couple of years for Masterton food rescue group Waiwaste.

Last year the group saved more than 47 tonnes of edible food from being taken to the landfill – that’s nearly 204,000 meals worth of food, almost enough to feed the entire population of Wellington.

The amount of food rescued by Waiwaste has steadily increased since the group was established four years ago, from 2736 kilograms in 2015 to 17,866kg in 2017.

Waiwaste co-founder and chairman Jeremy Logan said the huge increase last year was largely a result of partnering with Masterton supermarkets, including New World, Countdown and Pak’nSave, and New World in Carterton.

“We’re now collecting weekly as supermarkets are increasingly recognising that they need to be moving towards waste reduction,” he said.

Logan expected these figures to grow as more community businesses partnered with the food rescue group.

“We’re anticipating that the quantity will increase.”

Reducing food waste not only helps those struggling with food poverty, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions produced by rotting food in landfills.

“When people are in need it seems just crazy that it’s going to waste and contributing to CO2.”

Other environmental benefits included less wasted resources used for food production, including seeds, water, energy, land, fertiliser, manual labour and financial capital.

Waiwaste has been approached by vegetable growers and egg producers, and has gained regular meat suppliers too.

“This is produce which is surplus to the market need and they’re making it available to distribute,” Logan said.

The group is responsible for building relationships with food growers and food distributers and advocating against food waste, while the Masterton Foodbank redistributes the rescued food to individuals and families through food parcels and to other organisations who distribute food to people in need.

The group comprises around 15 volunteers and has taken on a co-ordinator funded in part by the Masterton District Council and Trust House.

Last year a branch opened in Carterton and the group has partners collecting food in Featherston and Martinborough.

Waiwaste operations co-ordinator Elise Sadler said food waste is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and rescuing it from landfills has a significant impact.

“When food good enough to eat is rescued, we are making a positive difference, not only to the environment but to the lives of people who are struggling with food poverty.”

More information about Waiwaste can be found on their Facebook page.

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