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Reap - Guy Smilling

Case Studies

We would love to post case studies of Reap volunteers successfully managing food rescue in their local areas.

These stories will help illustrate the various stages of development - and hopefully inspire you too!

Tell us your story - email kate.kutty@ozharvest.org.


Food Rescue in Wellington, New Zealand - www.kaibosh.org.nz

What is their story?

Kaibosh started in 2008 when Robyn and George Langlands started collecting surplus food from Wishbone (a local food retailer), storing it overnight in their fridge and dropping it off to charities the next day to feed people in need.

With a group of friends who donated time and skills they started rescuing good food in Wellington.

Fast forward two years they now rent an office, employ a part-time Operations Manager, have won the hearts of Wellingtonians and have expanded their operations.

Kaibosh uses volunteers to work together to alleviate food poverty and reduce food waste.

Kaibosh sought out food retailers to collect more food, set up regular pick-ups from fresh produce and artisan food markets, an online food retailer and several bakeries, but initially struggled to bring a chain of local supermarkets on board.

Getting the local supermarket chain on board – how they did it.

This particular chain operated like franchises - so each store had to be approached individually. Email and telephone approaches were not successful so the Kaibosh Operations Manager had to meet with each store manager face to face.

The first pick-ups were disappointing – damaged packaging, small amounts, and Kaibosh started being turned away. Then they discovered the supermarket was supplying another charity with bread every week day and the Dock Manager had thought that Kaibosh was trying to steal this other surplus food from this charity!!! And as it turned out that the charity was also one of Kaibosh's regular recipients.

Kaibosh realized they needed to make sure each of their charities told them about existing relationships with retailers so she did not step on anyone's toes or disrupt existing arrangements.

Kaibosh also realized they needed to make it clear to the supermarket staff that Kaibosh was working together with the charity, and not trying to take away the charity's food supply.

Kaibosh and the charity jointly wrote a letter to the supermarket, thanking them for all their donations and help, clarifying Kaibosh's position, and authorising Kaibosh to pick up any other non-bread surplus.

Kaibosh's Operations Manager followed up on this with a meeting with the supermarket owner, and was introduced to key staff, including the Dock Manager.

The staff were quick to come on board once they understood more about Kaibosh and who was benefiting from the donated food. As a result, Kaibosh was able to successfully rescue and redistribute an even greater amount of food. The supermarket is now one of their bigger food donors.

Key Lessons

  • Try multiple channels of communication and be persistent (but polite!).
  • Try to meet food donor management or owners in person.
  • Different people prefer to communicate in different ways – phone, email, post, text, face-to-face – it may be necessary to try different methods to get your foot in the door and persuade people of the merits of your cause.
  • Some people may not respond to emails as they are not around the computer much - they may be busy on the shop floor, or they may not like using technology.
  • Make sure you communicate with all levels of staff at your food donor organization – ie owners and managers and frontline staff.
  • Explain where your food will go and the benefit it gives to your charity.
  • Presentations at staff meetings and flyers that give an overview of what you are doing for your charity may help get a food donor on board.
  • Be aware that you might not know the full story if you are told you cannot pick up excess food. In Kaibosh's case the charity had not told Kaibosh the full story about their existing relationship with the supermarket, a series of misunderstandings had eventuated. If Kaibosh had simply given up on the supermarket, they might have lost out on one of their bigger donors.

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