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Working towards food security - Tararua District Council

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Tararua District Council is working with community organisations in their efforts to make sure that everyone in Tararua has sustainable access to affordable and nutritious food.

There are many different reasons why people in the Tararua district need to call upon food support from foodbanks and social or health organisations; these include sudden change of circumstances and economic hardship. These food distribution organisations have strong connections to their communities and together, they hope to build and maintain a more food secure community.

In light of the welfare response to COVID-19, Council successfully applied for a Food Secure Communities grant from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Emma Elliott has been contracted to research how organisations across the district currently distribute food to those who need it, both on a day to day basis and in the event of aCivil Defence Emergency Management situation. She is a member of a Food Secure Communities working group along with Council and representatives from iwi and the food distribution organisations. They aim to develop a future proofed plan for food security in the district.

"Many people and organisations in our district have found their own niche in food distribution to fill in the gaps when people face hardship. These organisations and people do a great job. Just by bringing food distribution stakeholders together, we can utilise the strengths and build networks on a regional and local level. As a collective, we can address common challenges and share ideas, successes, and knowledge to learn from each other," says Emma.

There have been many meetings in order to map out 66 different stakeholders throughout the district. These include traditional foodbanks, community support organisations, churches, Iwi, youth centres, schools, Te Kōhanga Reo in Woodville, and Te Whare Ora o Eketāhuna. "Our food network maps show how we are currently producing, donating, coordinating, and distributing food to people within a certain area. They also show where the gaps are and where there is duplication in food distribution. They will help us to strengthen our networks and work together to implement a plan for growing, collecting, and distributing food for the people of Tararua," says Angela Rule, Economic Development Advisor of Tararua District Council.

One of the opportunities identified by the working group was to apply to the Food Secure Communities Implementation Fund with a focus on community gardens, an important tool in the kete to combat food insecurity.

Currently, there are community gardens in Eketāhuna, Pahiatua and Dannevirke. Another community garden group is being established in Woodville.

Since COVID-19 unemployment and economic hardship have increased. There is a growing number of people who do not earn enough to buy sufficient healthy food. The effects of droughts and other extreme weather events are expected to further accelerate food insecurity, especially in rural communities. "Our Food Secure

Communities Plan will link in with Civil Defence Emergency Management Plans. This time round it was COVID- 19, next time it could be something else like an earthquake, flooding, or another unforeseen disaster that will cause increased food insecurity. Supporting foodbanks and other community food organisations will not only help with the increased demand for food from people day to day but also in emergency situations," says Emma.

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