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Countdown to the food rescue

Countdown food rescue services truck

12 Nov | 2012

Countdown's generosity means improved nutrition for many Salvation Army clients and ensures some food banks don't run out of food.

Christchurch Community Ministries and Centre Coordinator Nick Allwright collecting Countdown food donations.

A supermarket chain’s generosity means improved nutrition for many Salvation Army clients and, in some cases, ensures food banks don’t run out of food.

For almost a year, the bulk of Countdown’s 161 supermarkets have been providing packaged food to their local Salvation Army food banks that is nearing its expiry date or has received minor packaging damage.

While many Countdown super-markets had been donating food to a range of charities on an ad hoc basis, the Food Rescue programme is a formal partnership with The Salvation Army.

Some stores give bread, eggs and vegetables, boosting the nutritional value of many food parcels, and used by some centres to provide meals for the homeless.

The programme launched in 2011 when Countdown stores donated $80,000 of food in time for the heavy pre-Christmas food bank demand. It also provided bins so customers could donate food. The company is planning to repeat the initiative for Christmas in 2012.

Salvation Army Community Ministries Secretary Major Pam Waugh says the programme has meant food banks are now better stocked than ever. In the past, some smaller Community Ministries had to shut their doors temporarily because of depleted stock, but this is now no longer the case, she says.

Countdown Public Affairs Manager Luke Schepen says the programme is part of the company’s strategy of eliminating food waste, and The Salvation Army ensures the unsaleable food gets to those who need it most.

‘A core value of our business is our focus on doing the right thing by our customers and also by the communities our supermarkets operate in,’ he says.

‘We have 18,000 team members who love serving their communities, and food rescue is one way they are able to do this—these are the people who drive the programme.’

In any given week, Countdown supermarkets donate dry groceries to Salvation Army food banks with a retail value of around $20,000—and this excludes fresh food and non-food items. The company gives another $20,000 worth of food per week to other charities and organisations.

Countdown’s relationship with The Salvation Army is a long one. The company was one of the first businesses to come forward following the first Canterbury earthquake in September 2010.

It donated $100,000 for The Salvation Army’s recovery work in the region and provided logistical expertise when the Army set up a food distribution centre to cope with the steep rise in demand for welfare services.

The distribution centre now processes food parcels for Christchurch’s six Community Ministries and Centre Coordinator Nick Allwright says up to 20 per cent of food parcel content is now contributed by local Countdown supermarkets.

The Salvation Army very much appreciates Countdown’s continued support of Kiwis in need in local communities throughout New Zealand.

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