News | 2 May 2022
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Kaibosh's quest to save kai and fight food poverty

What started as saving a few leftover sandwiches and ready-to-eat meals from going in the bin, has turned into more than 2.6 million kilos of food being donated to charities over the past decade.

Kaibosh's General Manager Matt Dagger
Kaibosh's General Manager Matt Dagger

Kaibosh is no ordinary organisation – they are New Zealand’s first food rescue organisation, which has been feeding Wellingtonians in need since 2008. 

Kaibosh General Manager Matt Dagger says the organisation “almost kind of happened by chance” with a simple but effective concept – they received quality surplus food which they passed on to charities who could provide it to people in need.

A short history of Kaibosh

It started when Robyn Langlands, a volunteer from the Wellington Women’s Refuge, began picking up food one night a week from Wishbone to take to the refuge. 

Food from one store, then turned into two stores, and all of a sudden she had more sandwiches and ready meals for the Refuge, and had to begin reaching out to other charities to help rehome the leftover kai. 

“There was a surplus of food that was being wasted and it could be an incredible resource, and on the other side there were all these people who were desperately needing food,” says Matt.

This idea then spiralled with donations from local markets, such as the Harbourside Market, which is managed by Wellington City Council. This increased the range of food they could supply. They opened their first warehouse to store and sort the food, and hired drivers to pick up donations of kai from across the city.

Kaibosh team boxing up kai

A few years later, they helped influence a change in legislation which allowed businesses to donate food without liability. This encouraged more commercial businesses to donate.

“After 2014 when the legislation changed, supermarkets and food donors became more comfortable to give food to us and others across the country. Things grew from there,” says Matt. 

“With more supply of food available, we’ve been able to bring on more charities.”

Kaibosh team preparing boxes

Sharing knowledge and nutritious kai

Now, Kaibosh has three branches open across Wellington, redistributing 60 tonnes of surplus food each month. They support over 130 charities and organisations with the goal of ‘Zero food poverty. Zero food waste’.

To date they have provided more than 7 million meals and have contributed to reducing carbon emissions by over 750,000kg.

“The food we provide is good quality and nutritious. Over 70 percent of the food we give out is fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat. Those are the high-cost foods that drop off people’s shopping list.” 

Kaibosh has also played an important part in the COVID-19 response. 

“During the pandemic, people were on a knife’s edge and couldn’t access food the way they used to – everyone realised this was going on so we had incredible donations from businesses and communities,” says Matt. 

 “We’ve gone from being a small grass roots organisation to being a part of the national response for the pandemic. We’ve still kept our grass roots flavour, working with small local businesses and Government organisations. That’s what I’m proud of.”