We all want to be a good neighbour; whether it’s a friendly wave across the street or keeping a spare door key on hand, looking out for each other is all part of living in a community.
Good Neighbour Aotearoa Trust have devised a way for Tauranga locals to be the ultimate good neighbour by providing practical opportunities to support one another.
Whether its distributing 2 tonnes of rescued food daily to local community groups, delivering firewood to those in need, carrying out backyard projects and building maintenance, or cultivating community gardens for people to grow their own food, the charity works to support those facing some of life’s toughest times with a friendly neighbourly hand.
A Community Kitchen
Since their launch in 2011, the team has grown from a small group of friends wanting to make a positive change in their local neighbourhoods, to over 450 volunteers who do their bit for the wider Western Bay community through four main arms of work; Food Rescue, Neighbourhood Projects, Community Gardens and the Good Neighbour Kitchen.
The Good Neighbour Kitchen is a relatively new arm of the charity which opened in early 2019. Acting as an integrated waste minimisation and social enterprise strategy, the commercial kitchen not only breaks the cycle of food waste but does so through training programmes.
Using donated food that would otherwise be discarded from supermarkets and other suppliers, the Good Neighbour kitchen is utilised to provide training in the culinary arts; providing those who are at the moment unemployed hands-on experience in a commercial kitchen, opening opportunities to future employment in the hospitality sector, or other employment through the life skills learnt. Participants come from schools or are referred through community organisations such as Awhina House and the Night Shelter.
The kitchen’s delicious meals, sweet treats and savoury bites are created and sold as part of their catering business; providing a sustainable income stream to support their operations.
Jackie Paine, Food Coordinator at Good Neighbour says the concept started through conversations with Toi Ohomai.
“They were finding lots of the students were coming into tertiary education unprepared. So we started thinking about a kitchen to fill the gap with more hands-on based training and encouragement.”
“We have boys from Tauranga Boys College who aren’t fitting into the traditional school system, leaving the programme walking tall knowing they have succeeded” says Good Neighbour’s Food Impact Director, John Paine.
“They are making food that gets sold and people enjoy. It’s exciting for them having that real-world impact. They come into a small group with volunteers and chefs James and Lee working alongside them, encouraging them—they just blossom. They are learning they can do anything they put their mind to, they just needed a different avenue to achieve that.”
TECT Funding Makes a Difference
TECT has supported Good Neighbour’s operating costs since 2016 and were thrilled to provide funding towards the build of the commercial kitchen in 2018 with a grant of $125,000.
“We are really grateful to TECT, they have been behind us from day one and have been a huge supporter of the kitchen project” John says. “Having a funder who totally believes in what you are doing, particularly when its different to the norm, is massive for us.”
TECT Trustee Mark Arundel says that the commercial kitchen is an excellent example of an innovative approach to addressing community issues.
“The new Good Neighbour kitchen provides a fantastic learning opportunity for people to work in food handling and gain the foundation requirements for further learning or direct entry into employment, while also producing delicious food for our community. It’s addressing two key issues in our region through an innovative, collaborative approach that you don’t see every day.”
To learn more about Good Neighbour and how they are transforming our community, visit https://goodneighbour.co.nz.