Kai Kitchen Trust free food store has a busy three months

Volunteers Cheryl Christensen (left), Taukirangi Brown, Harmony Foley and Cassidy Neil with board member Tane Houston. Photo/ Provided

A free food store in South Taranaki is fighting food waste.

The Kai Kitchen Trust opened the free food store in April 2021, and board member Michelle Mills said that since the doors opened the store has been busy.

“It’s definitely grown. Over the past three months we’ve seen a big increase. We’re seeing regular customers, but over the Christmas period we’ve seen a lot of new faces.”

The store began donating excess food donated to The Kai Kitchen’s needs to minimize the amount of food going to the landfill. After the team selects the school lunch food and kai packs, the rest are directed to the free food store.

Michelle describes the store as a modern food bank.

“There is a limit to how much a customer can take from each shelf. For example, a customer can take one item from the snacks shelf, one from the sugar shelf, and a few produce items.

“We want to stop so much food going to landfill, but also want people to take what they will use.”

Last month, 1243 kg of food was distributed at the store.

“That equals 4053 meals.”

Michelle says there are no criteria for shopping at the store.

“It’s for everyone.”

With the country in the red light setting, instead of customers walking into the store, they can receive a pre-made pack at the door.

“The packs include things from every shelf. People end up with a wide variety of things.”

She says the school meals program is also a success, with the Kai Kitchen Trust helping seven schools this year.

“The schools are located from Stratford to Hāwera. We have 43 pupils we are currently supporting, but we expect this number to increase throughout the year.”

Michelle says those wishing to donate can visit The Kai Kitchen’s website and search for “Adopt-a-Lunch.”

“We appreciate everyone who donates.”