Farmers grapple with all sorts of challenges on a daily basis but putting healthy food on the table is not usually one of them. But there are Kiwi families who struggle on that front, which is why Wayne Langford is keen to remind people about Meat the Need.
Left: Wayne Langford, co-founder of Meat the Need.
That’s the charity that he and Siobhan O’Malley launched during the pandemic lockdown last year. It’s a simple but effective concept, which is why Meat the Need was a finalist in the 2020 Sustainable Business Awards and NZ Food Hero programme, and won the Industry Champions Award at the 2020 Primary Industries NZ Summit.
Farmers are encouraged to donate livestock (beef, sheep, lamb or deer) via the Meat the Need website (meattheneed.org), or via simply contacting the stock agents of the charity’s founding partner, Silver Fern Farms.
The value of sheep, deer and cattle donations is credited to Meat the Need’s ‘food fund’ and converted into purchase of 500g packets of quality minced red meat to distribute via foodbanks when it is needed. This spreads supply over the year for foodbanks, taking their minds off finding food and getting back to doing the great social work they carry out.
Wayne, who is the current Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson, is especially keen to get that message into farming families’ consciousness right now because from March through to early June is a peak processing season for New Zealand meatworks.
“Donating an animal or two now is crucial in helping us do what we do. You’ll be making a big difference to those most vulnerable in our communities. Providing food is at the core of what farmers do.
“Most often the parcels given out by foodbanks are lacking in high-protein foods because to include them, the Salvation Army, the City Missions and the like have to dip into meagre cash reserves to buy them. We short-circuit that problem because we’re doing the buying, Silver Fern processes, packs and ships the mince, and it can be used in so many ways for healthy meals,” Wayne says.
Around 25 million animals are processed in New Zealand every year; Meat the Need is targeting only about 2000 of them this year, ultimately building up to 5000 a year. That would put one parcel of mince in every food parcel in NZ and from just a fraction of what Kiwi farmers produce.
Since the launch of the scheme in April last year, the value of around 800 animals has been donated. That’s been enough to provide for around 370,000 meals.
Wayne’s not sure why – maybe it’s because of last year’s drought in the North Island – but to date about 85 per cent of donations have come from the bottom half of the country. So there’s a deliberate push to spread the word in the North Island.
Meat the Need is supplying about 35 foodbanks in the South Island alone, and tries to deal with those organisations which are also offering complementary services such as budgeting.
“Christchurch City Mission has told us that they’re now building cooking classes around our packets of mince.”
This month Meat the Need is spreading further into the North Island, with the hope farmers will get in behind such a great cause.
If you’re not a Silver Fern Farm supplier, that’s fine, use your regular processor then donate online at www.meattheneed.org
You don’t even have to be a farmer. On-line options include a ‘Virtual Cow, Virtual Sheep, a ‘Box of Love’ at $25, or a ‘Box of Meat’ at $50.
As a registered charity, donations to Meat the Need are tax deductible.
“Let’s do what farmers do and feed New Zealand,” Wayne says.