The farmer-led charity filling up food banks around New Zealand

Meat the Need is a farmer-led charity determined to get nutritious New Zealand meat and milk to those who need it most. 

Since it was established three years ago, the charity has donated more than 3 million milk portions and 1.4 million mince meals to 115 food banks and community organisations nationwide. 

Meat the Need is one of the inspiring charities who are being supported by Z Energy (Z) through its Good in the Hood campaign for 2023. Good in Hood helps local community groups by giving them a share of $1 million to do good in their neighbourhood. 

The charity was founded by dairy farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O'Malley during the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. After initially being trialed in Canterbury, Meat the Need now provides premium protein-based meals to Kiwis right across the country.   

The charity receives livestock and milk from farmers around Aotearoa. With the help of its partners Silver Fern Farms, Fonterra and Miraka, it then processes and packages up these products and delivers them to those "on the frontlines of food insecurity in New Zealand".   

"The impact that farmers are making on families doing it hard around New Zealand is phenomenal," says Sarah Gagliardi, Meat the Need's national operations manager. 

Gagliardi says right from the start, the charity's mission has been to "connect the dots between farmers who can spare a little of what they're producing, with families that are doing it tough". The ultimate goal is "for no one to go hungry in New Zealand". 

But recently, more Kiwis are needing a helping hand to put food on the table, food banks across the country are struggling to keep up. Gagliardi says the food banks Meat the Need works with, have reported a 30 percent increase in demand compared to this time last year, meaning Meat the Need's support is needed now more than ever in communities right across the country.  

"The demand is high at the moment and food banks are always super grateful because nutritious protein products can be hard to come by," says Gagliardi. 

And despite being "a pretty tough time for farmers" in recent years, Gagliardi says it's been overwhelmingly positive for the rural community to come together to help others. 

"It's incredible seeing the impact the rural sector is making. Many farmers appreciate the hardship that other people in their community go through and so there's definitely a connection between farmers who want to donate - they can directly impact people within the community in a positive way." 

One hundred percent of farmer donations go directly into feeding families in need and non-farmers can also contribute, by donating a 'virtual animal' or a 'box of meat'. Last year, Meat the Need also held a 'rural telethon' - the Big Feed - with the aim of raising 1 million meals to donate to food banks. The telethon ended up raising 1.2 million meals and will be repeated later this year, in December. 

Gagliardi says the charity is "stoked" to have been selected to take part in the Good in the Hood campaign, which will allow it to provide even more milk and mince meals for families who need it most. 

"The impact of this is going to be massive." 

Z's Head of Sustainability and Community Abbie Bull, says Z is thrilled to be working with groups like Meat the Need through Good in the Hood. "The fact Meat the Need have been selected across so many Z sites for this year's programme shows just how important their mahi is, and the reach they have across the country. We’re really pleased to be able to make a small contribution to support their efforts." 

This year, Z will surpass the $10 million milestone in donations to community groups and charities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand since 2011, largely enabled through its Good in the Hood programme. 

Customers who shop in-store at Z are given an orange token to pop in one of four boxes to vote for their favourite local group, like Meat the Need, with $4,000 per Z station split between the participating groups based on the number of votes they receive. To vote for Meat the Need, make a purchase before 23 October at any of the following Z Energy stations and use your orange token to cast your vote: Z High Street, Z Milford, Z Warkworth, Z Awakeri, Z Carlton Corner, Z Waikuku, Z Morrinsville, Z Ngaruawahia, Z Five Crossroads, Z Kaitaia, Z Stratford, Z Beach Rd, Z Rolleston, Z Belfast, Z High St, Z Whitianga, Z Levin, Z Frankton, Z Masterton, Z Ngatea, Z Kilbirnie.  

Article created in partnership with Z Energy