Elmer Peiffer from Whakaora Foodservice is back up and running with a new qr code system.
Hundreds of food-starved people can now get free help again after long-established food distributors Rotorua Whakaora reopened their free store.
The popular store that distributes food parcels to the needy
by Gina and Elmer Peiffer was forced to close in early February after the organization had to redesign to ensure its longevity.
At the time, they said the decision to close was “heartbreaking” but they were exhausted, strapped for cash and needed to be more efficient or risk sinking “into the grave”.
The free store at 57 Depot St was open three days a week on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, but only reopened on Saturday.
Those who wanted a food parcel had to bring their own bag or box and register their name, address, phone number, how many people in their family and any iwi affiliations. They would then receive an individual QR code which they would use to scan each time they went to pick up a package in the future.
They would then walk down a line and choose the limited items they wanted, such as cereal, pasta or rice and canned goods, and receive their fresh fruits and vegetables and baked goods. Other items in their packages on Saturday included frozen pork mince, frozen quarters and toiletries including shampoo and conditioner, face masks and toilet paper.
The packages were enough to feed three people for four days.
The store will open between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for seniors only and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the general public, close one hour between 1 and 2 p.m. and reopen between 2 and 4 p.m.
On Saturday, there were 119 registrations, feeding a total of 409 people.
QR codes sped up the process as it meant people no longer had to record these details every week.
Elmer Peiffer said they still needed a lot of labor to collect the food and sort it in the warehouse, but they were hoping to get a pallet stacker in the future which would help.
He said that after the closure was announced, one of their supporters offered him and Gina a two-night getaway at an Airbnb in Bethlehem, which allowed the couple to have their first break for months.
Peiffer said the past few weeks have been as busy as usual making pickups each day locally at places including Countdowns, Pak’nSave, Starbucks, Patrick’s Boutique Bakery, Pantry d’Or Boutique Baker and at a farm in eggs. This food was collected to feed the networks of outlying areas such as Maketū, Kaingaroa, Mangakino and Murupara.
They were also still providing bags of food at their weekly pick-up point at the Linton Park Community Center on Sundays. Only one food parcel may be given to families at Linton Park or the Free Food Store each week.
However, the break came from the labor-intensive free food store three days a week.
Elmer Peiffer said it was a great feeling to be back to distribute the food parcels.
“The new method was really well received and many were really grateful because they desperately needed kai.”
He said that although it took a little longer for everyone to check in with their new QR codes, it would be smoother for the second visit.
Rotorua Whakaora, formerly Love Soup, was established by the Peiffers in 2014. Initially they fed the homeless with hot meals but their focus changed in May 2020 as a result of Covid-19 to becoming distributors of food.
The Peiffers benefit because it allowed them to run Rotorua Whakaora, but they often worked seven days a week and up to 14-16 hours a day.