Boxloads of food saved from being dumped by Hamilton supermarkets and greengrocers are now finding their way to local families on the breadline courtesy of an initiative The Raglan House has recently linked into.
The Hamilton-based initiative – Kaivolution – “rescues” food to help rescue people in need, and volunteer drivers get a share of the unwanted grocery items out to Raglan House for distribution within the community.
Boxed and bagged goodies are now arriving here weekly and all types of food from bread, rolls, fruit and veges to cakes and free-range eggs have turned up, says new House manager Mike Rarere.
“This collaboration is awesome and each time the kai arrives we are stunned by the variety, quantity and quality … it’s a real lucky dip.”
Although the food is typically either on or just over the ‘best by’ date, it is still delicious, he insists.
Kaivolution is a not-for-profit organisation, set up under the umbrella of Waikato Environment Centre, which acts as a link between the food industry and community groups that support people in need.
Mike says when the food arrives – via Kaivolution – the House promotes it to the community through Facebook and local radio and by word of mouth.
And – as pointed out on the Facebook page of The Raglan House – it’s free to those who may be finding things a bit tough at the time. There’s a limited amount available so budget service clients are given priority.
Mike emphasises the House is working in collaboration with the Surfside Church-owned and run food bank across the road, which provides food parcels to those in the community “who are needing some help”.
For Mike, the new Raglan House initiative is just one way to support Whaingaroa as a safe and healthy community for all. He came to the job last month and has been busy making contact with staff at the area school, kaumatua at Poihakena marae, local police and health services to get a grasp of how Raglan works.
“Identifying the real issues and needs of a community takes time,” concedes Mike, who’s been based in Hamilton in the field of both youth and community development for 20-odd years. Previously he was a youth worker in South Auckland, followed by a stint as a security specialist – aka bodyguard – in Hong Kong.
Most recently Mike was the manager at Te Whare o te Ata Fairfield/Chartwell Community House where he dealt primarily with youth-related and urban issues. “It’s the same in Raglan too,” he says, revealing plans to use his contacts and tap into youth culture and peer mentors from Hamilton.
But providing “companionship and connectivity” is perhaps a priority here given a lot of older people live in Raglan, he says.
Affordable housing for residents and helping people “make ends meet” are other challenges to be tackled.
The 50 year old moved from Hamilton to Raglan five years ago because “my wife and I always wanted to live by the sea and in the bush”.
A Waikato University psychology student back in the 80s, he has fond memories of visiting the late Professor James Ritchie and wife Jane at their then home overlooking Indicators beyond Whale Bay.
He used to think “what an amazing place to live” – and it’s almost exactly where he’s ended up.
“I love that Raglan has got a voice … and that it’s quite media savvy. I hope to be here a long time.”