A health service is sharing the love, one pork roast at a time.
Uruuruwhenau Health, based in Alexandra, has received boxes pork cuts as part of a government initiative in the wake of Covid-19.
The initiative comes after independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers under Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions.
Those restrictions meant there was a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue.
That was when the Government stepped in, along with national food rescue network KiwiHarvest.
The Government has bought surplus pork at cost, up to a maximum of 2000 pigs or 112,000kg per week, which is then delivered to groups via KiwiHarvest.
The groups then distribute the pork throughout their communities, which is where Uruuruwhenua Health comes in.
The organisation, which supports all members of the Central Otago community and has a particular focus on Maori health, received its first shipment two weeks ago selection of pork meat.
Uruuruwhenua Health mauri ora/whanau ora navigator Grace Gibbons said people from all walks of life had benefited so far, including those recommended by various social service agencies.
However, recipients did not have to be on Uruuruwhenua Health’s books.
Instead, they might be someone, or a family, known to a public health nurse, Salvation Army or budgeting services, to name a few.
“We’ve tried to share the information with as many of the social services as we can.”
As one social service representative left Uruuruwhenua Health armed with meat on Friday, another would arrive, keeping Ms Gibbons busy, but happy.
“It’s a really nice way to engage with the community,” she said.
The meat is distributed to people throughout the district.
And, no matter where it went, the feedback and response was a “very appreciative” one.
“There’s been a lot of we haven’t been able to afford pork in years, what a treat’. It brings a smile. It’s, literally, something for nothing koha, a gift share with their whanau.”
NZ Pork chief executive David Baines said the concept was a “win-win”.
“Quality nutritious food will be provided to people who are in desperate need and surplus pork moved off-farm and through the supply chain.
“It will also deliver much-needed cash to pork wholesalers who are under severe cash-flow and profitability pressure.”
KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning said the initiative could not have come at a better time.
“Kiwis around the country are struggling more than ever in the face of the economic impact of Covid-19. We’ve seen a sharp and sustained increase in demand for our services since the lockdown began at the end of March, as levels of financial hardship have continued to rise,” she said.