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Good in the Hood helps ‘meat’ local need

Wairarapa farmers supporting a national charity that puts high-quality rural produce on to urban plates, hope a fundraising boost will encourage others to join.

Meat the Need, which was set up three years ago during the covid-19 pandemic, provides donated mince and milk powder to organisations including the Masterton Foodbank. This produce comes from farmers who wish to share what they have with families in need.

The charity received a Wairarapa donation late last year, after being selected as one of four charities or community groups to share $4000 raised by Z Energy’s Good in the Hood programme.

Customers at Masterton’s Z service station voted for one of the charities using a token. This round saw donations for Wairarapa divided between: Meat the Need Wairarapa $604; Masterton Community Patrol $628; Wairarapa Women’s Refuge $964 and Wellington Free Ambulance $1804.

Meat the Need Wairarapa volunteer Nicky Brown, who farms sheep and beef at Tinui, said the Z donation would see another 500-plus premium mince meals reach Masterton Foodbank.

Currently, farms registered with Silver Fern Farms or Alliance can contact their local representatives or go online and declare their donation in livestock, which is given to the foodbank as a monetary value equivalent, in the form of 500g mince packs.

Dairy farmers with Fonterra, Mikara or Synlait can donate milk equivalents through Meat the Need’s programme Feed Out.

Meat the Need ‘Champions’ such as Brown represent the charity at events, look for donation-giving opportunities and network with farmers, “connecting the dots between rural and urban”, she said.

“Mince was chosen [for foodbanks] as it’s versatile. Farmers are used to eating top-quality meat, whereas many families in need may not often experience premium mince. It’s a way of giving back to the community,” she said.

“Many farmers already donate directly to foodbanks but Meat the Need makes it easy for them.”

Businesses that work with farmers can also become financial donors or supporters, Brown said.

“If we can get more Wairarapa people involved, we can regularly supply more foodbanks here – a little goes a long way to getting some good protein to families.”

Pirinoa dairy farmer Jane Gatenby donates milk on a quarterly basis through the charity.

“It was the easiest donation I’ve ever made,” she said. “It took two minutes to fill in the form online and Fonterra and Meat the Need take care of the rest.”

Gatenby believes such actions strengthen the whole community.

“New Zealand is such a big producer of agricultural products and with the current cost of living, we can send some of it to help give people the opportunity to get back on their feet,” she said. “When you live rurally, these are the sorts of things you align with.”

Masterton Foodbank manager Jenna Matchett said it had been a recipient of Meat the Need for three years.

“It allows us to provide high-quality protein to our clients. This is something we wouldn’t be able to afford to include in our parcels, without the support of this amazing initiative,” she said.

“There is a real sense of support when our delivery arrives, as we know the meat has been donated by farmers wanting to make a difference – they are feeding so many people.”

Z Masterton retailers Hamish and Rachel Waddington said: “We are really excited to be supporting local community groups with Good in the Hood. It is super cool to be able to help local charities out and engage with them on site.”

For more information on Meat the Need visit the website: meattheneed.org

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