New Zealand Non-Profit a Model for Reducing Food Waste and Feeding the Hungry

by Vins

Local businesses of Wellington, New Zealand end their day by donating surplus food to The Free Store, a non-profit organization dedicated to redistributing otherwise wasted food free of charge to anyone in need. Funded entirely by donations and grants, the non-profit grocery store aims to demolish the food cost barrier that prevents the less fortunate from accessing quality food in their own community. Volunteers of The Free Store travel by foot to pick up unsold food from local bakeries, cafés, restaurants. Rina Diane Caballar of YES! Magazine reported in 2017 on The Free Store and the societal issues that it tackles.

28 percent of New Zealand’s children—approximately 295,000—are impoverished. At the same time, Kiwis waste over 120,000 tons of food, worth $625 million USD, annually. Since the community food source was developed in November 2010, Benjamin Johnson, its co-founder and director, estimates that The Free Store has redistributed 250,000 items of surplus food, with a retail value of approximately $1.05 million USD, each year.

Johnson is encouraging reproduction of the project in other parts of the world. As its branches grow, communities will contribute to the Free Store’s aim of a hunger-free, waste-free world.

As YES! Magazine reported, the movement to reduce food waste is also being fought in Singapore and Lebanon, where redistribution centers have been created for leftover local food. And, in the US, college graduate in California created Copia, a phone app used to schedule pick-ups and deliveries of surplus food.

Source: Rina Diane Caballar, “How a Free Grocery Store Is Cutting Food Waste–and Hunger,” YES! Magazine, September 12, 2017, http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-a-free-grocery-store-is-cutting-food-waste-and-hunger-20170912.

Student Researcher: Lauryn Rowland (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)