Leftover Queenstown cafe food going to charity instead of landfill

Bakery and cafe treats that would otherwise go to waste are being rescued and given to charities that help feed those in need in Queenstown.

KiwiHarvest is expanding its food rescue service from supermarkets to seven cafes in the town, saving between 2 and 5kg of muffins, scones and wraps from landfill a week and delivering it to charities.

"It's actually really high quality stuff, we've got some really awesome cafes in Queenstown. If you imagine when you walk into a cafe all of those yummy cabinet items," said Kayleigh Simons-Smith, the organisation's Queenstown branch manager.

"Each cafe will have a KiwiHarvest big plastic tub and they'll fill it up with food from the day before and the next morning our rider will pick it up and it goes out to the recipient that day."

She said more people needed help putting food on the table and in their kids lunchboxes since the nationwide lockdown.

"As we near the holiday season, it's heart-breaking to think that every year, people all across the country struggle to put food on the table, when so much edible food ends up wasted."

The team, including many volunteers, is doing the cafe rounds on a new e-bike with a trailer, bought with support from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Waste Minimisation Community Fund.

They collect leftover food from cafes three times a week.

"We're delighted that so many volunteers have signed up as riders already, giving part of their day to address an urgent need, while reducing our carbon footprint at the same time," Simons-Smith said.

Signs Café is among the eateries letting no muffin go to waste.

"We really wanted to ensure that our leftover food doesn't go to waste. On most days, we sell the majority of our items but it's good to know that the ones we don't sell aren't going to landfill anymore," Kendal, the cafe's manager said.

Simons-Smith hopes more cafes will want to take part in the project, joining Signs Cafe, Yonder, Bespoke Kitchen, and Starbucks Queenstown.

KiwiHarvest delivers rescued food to a range of charities including Happiness House, Whakatipu Youth Trust and Mana Tāhuna Charitable Trust. 

Its Queenstown branch has distributed 86,271kg of rescued food into the local community in the last year.