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KiwiHarvest and Invercargill Prison partner to provide food to Southland communities in need

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A new partnership between KiwiHarvest and Invercargill Prison is providing fresh produce to communities across the Southland region.

The initiative not only supports people in need, but gives prisoners important gardening skills that may assist when they’re released and return to their whānau.

The men working in the prison garden produce fresh vegetables, propagating seeds in tunnel houses and transferring seedlings in raised gardens or sowing directly into the soil.

Every week, KiwiHarvest collects the harvested vegetables and delivers it to over 23 charitable organisations in the region, including the Salvation Army, Kōhanga Reo, local foodbanks, social service agencies, marae, low decile schools and kindergartens.

Invercargill Prison has donated over 450 kilos of produce to KiwiHarvest so far - equating to 2,594 servings of produce to the Southland community.

Some examples of produce grown include tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, onions, beetroot, pumpkin, cucumber. The fresh food grown helps recipient agencies provide more balanced and nutritious food parcels.

Jessie Beer, KiwiHarvest Invercargill Branch Manager, describes how the partnership is making a difference in the local community.

"It's a privilege to be working alongside Invercargill Prison. The partnership has given us the opportunity to connect and provide fresh produce to our most valuable community groups here in Southland, while also giving the prisoners a sense of mana."

"The current demand for the Southland region has increased due to the pandemic and rising living costs. Our biggest week to date saw us distributing 7,968kg of stock, which is the equivalent 22,765 meals! And from this, 50kg of fresh produce was provided from Invercargill Prison," she adds.

Invercargill Prison has been supplying kai to the Salvation Army for four years, and is very happy to expand its donations to KiwiHarvest and reach more communities in need, says Acting Manager Industries Barry Chapman.

"It’s incredibly rewarding for the men working in the gardens. Some of them have been on the receiving end of food parcels in the past, and have told our team how it’s good to give back. They take immense pride in their work and the produce they provide."

The men also gain NCEA unit standards from their gardening, adding to their toolkit of employable skills upon release.

Since its establishment in August, KiwiHarvest Invercargill has distributed over 92,000 kilos of rescued food into the Southland region - the equivalent of over 263,000 meals.

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