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The COVID-19 pandemic has helped sharpen Foodstuffs’ focus on what’s important to New Zealanders and where we should be directing our support.

Collectively, the two Foodstuffs co-operatives via our store owners supported schools, sports clubs, food banks, community organisations and events to a value of $7.4 million last year alone, and donated the equivalent of 8 million meals to those who needed it most through food rescue organisations.

Because of the local community connection stores have, there is a clear link to the real needs many of our communities are facing. In many cases this need was already present, but in today’s world, so heavily impacted by COVID-19, it has grown exponentially as people’s jobs, income and livelihoods have been impacted.

We are 100% locally owned and operated, and proud to have been here for New Zealand since 1922. The launch of ‘Here for New Zealand’ across the Foodstuffs co-operatives is a way we can come together to deliver on the four CSR social promises we make to New Zealand:

  • Healthy and Affordable Food – We support every New Zealander to access healthy and affordable food.
  • Meaningful Work – We create meaningful and safe work for our people.
  • Supporting Local Communities – We support our local communities to thrive.
  • Sustainability Leadership – We are sustainability leaders in our operations and how we source our products.

“Feedback and conversations with our City Missions, food banks and food rescue partners suggest the area where we can make the most difference to New Zealanders right now, is in the space of healthy and affordable food,” says Steve Anderson CEO of Foodstuffs South Island. “Many New Zealand families are struggling to make ends meet and connecting with organisations who are experts in reaching those most in need is the single most effective way we can make a meaningful difference.”

“That’s why with the launch of ‘Here for New Zealand,’ Foodstuffs’ co-operatives and New World, PAK’nSAVE, Four Square, Gilmours and Trents stores will be focusing on supporting organisations throughout New Zealand that specialise in helping the most vulnerable in our communities to access healthy and affordable food. When they are unable to access it themselves, these organisations work tirelessly to fill that gap and make sure food is on the table when the need is greatest,” adds Chris Quin CEO of Foodstuffs North Island.

When COVID-19 hit New Zealand shores in early 2020, an emergency Support Fund was quickly set up by Foodstuffs, distributing $1.3 million to 55 organisations. The purpose of the fund was to help New Zealanders access healthy affordable food during the lockdown period, and in the months immediately after, when the financial repercussions of the pandemic started to bite.

“Our response to supporting New Zealanders during the pandemic was really the start of ‘Here for New Zealand,’” says Quin. “We soon realised this wasn’t going to be a short sharp economic or financial shock. COVID-19 and its aftermath is something New Zealand and the wider global community are going to be dealing with for potentially years to come.”

Building on the $1.3 million COVID-19 Support Fund, Foodstuffs is giving away an additional $600,000 over the next 12 months to organisations specifically focused on feeding New Zealanders or helping the most vulnerable in our community who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Queenstown’s ‘Happiness House’ is one organisation benefitting from ‘Here for New Zealand’s’ additional support. Happiness House is a non-profit organisation that provides a range of support services to local families, migrant families, seasonal workers, the elderly and the young.

"The majority of people who live in the Wakatipu have moved here from elsewhere and have little to no family support,” says Robyn Francis, Manager of Happiness House. “With the high cost of living, low wages and social isolation that comes from being far from family, the Wakatipu can be a challenging place to live. And that was before COVID-19 hit, taking away jobs for many and adding a whole new layer of stress and uncertainty. Being able to access support from the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust means we can continue to support those who need it the most in our community.

“Being able to continue to provide fruit and vegetables at our weekly produce table is a true lifeline for many and the support of Foodstuffs at a time when finances are tight for New Zealanders is critical for organisations like us,” finishes Francis.

Auckland City Mission CE, Chris Farrelly says “So many New Zealanders are facing unknown and uncertain challenges with an uncertain future. The ongoing support and product we generously receive from Foodstuffs, New World and PAK’nSAVE stores enables us to look after New Zealanders who are struggling to make ends meet. We can’t do what we do without the support of companies and individuals, particularly as we head into Christmas.”

The uncertainty and challenges many New Zealanders face and the critical support received from Foodstuffs is also echoed by Sweet Louise CEO Catrin Devonald.

“As people struggle to make ends meet in a tough economic environment bitten by COVID-19, discretionary income has taken a hit so individuals and businesses alike are finding it harder to spare funds to support charities like they may have in the past,” says Devonald. “Being a recipient of Foodstuffs’ ‘Here for New Zealand’ means we can continue to help New Zealanders living with the challenging diagnosis of incurable breast cancer.

“Access to healthy and affordable food is critical to their mental and physical wellbeing. But it can be tough for a number of reasons; many find themselves in a challenging financial position due to having to give up work or are simply not well enough to venture out to the supermarket. That’s where we come in – we help provide practical support, including emergency supermarket vouchers, so some of that pressure is relieved and those affected by incurable breast cancer, and their families, can focus on what’s most important to them.”