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Meat the Need: New charity a game-changer for donating meat to foodbanks

Meat the Need: New charity a game-changer for donating meat to foodbanks

A new charity is improving the way foodbanks and city missions around New Zealand are supplied with donations of red meat from farmers.

Meat the Need: New charity a game-changer for donating meat to foodbanks

Meat the Need is an innovative initiative that allows farmers to donate livestock that is then processed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered to the community organisations feeding vulnerable New Zealanders.

The charity was founded by farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley, with its launch brought forward in order to help those who are struggling to make ends meet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Langford, a dairy farmer from Golden Bay, first came up with the idea when he donated meat to a local foodbank. “We asked how long that would last for, thinking they would say two or three days or a week, and they said it would last a couple of months,” says Langford.

“I thought, if I donated a whole beast then it might last all year, and effectively no one in Golden Bay would go hungry. And then I thought, if we’ve got a hundred odd farms in Golden Bay, if I only donate one in my lifetime, and everyone else does the same then we should really never have anyone go hungry again.” 

The idea continued to grow – soon Langford was sharing it with friend O’Malley, and the pair decided to work together to turn the concept into a reality. Silver Fern Farms came on board as partner, with the company processing the livestock, turning it into mince and distributing it to the charity groups. “You really need a processor to come on board, and that’s why we’re so thankful for Silver Fern Farms – without them you’re missing a very important cog in the chain,” says Langford.

Silver Fern Farms’ partnership means a farmer can send their donation away at the same time they send their livestock to be processed. Then, using Silver Fern Farms’ existing distribution chain they’re able to get the meat from the donated animal out to the city missions and foodbanks. It also allows farmers to donate at seasonal times that suit them, and lets Meat the Need send out the donations according to when the community organisations need them, so that the organisations don’t have to take large volumes of meat all at once.

“What we’ve put together is a charitable supply chain that allows us to smooth out the supply for the foodbanks so that they can have a regular amount of meat that’s delivered to them on a schedule that they can anticipate, they can plan around,” says O’Malley. “We have really tried to take the time to understand the needs of the foodbanks and then the needs of the farmers and marry it up and make sure that it’s going to work for everyone.”

Farmers with cows, sheep or deer to donate can either contact their Silver Fern Farms Livestock Rep to say they want to give to Meat the Need, or they can visit the Meat the Need website. But while farmers are a major part of Meat the Need, anyone is welcome to donate. There’s the option to specify your own amount of money to donate, or you can give the monetary value of an animal by pledging a virtual cow or virtual sheep.

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