Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni visits KiwiHarvest food rescue event to see food insecurity herself

The Deputy Prime Minister enjoyed a lunch on Tuesday made entirely out of rescued food.

Carmel Sepuloni spoke at the KiwiHarvest event to raise awareness of food insecurity.

But ahead of Wednesday's food price inflation update charities warn donations are declining as the cost of living continues to bite.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni kicked off a fiesta of rescued food that seemed to go down a treat.

The event was hosted by KiwiHarvest, a charity that stops food going to landfills and distributes it to vulnerable communities.

"Today I'm here to show my appreciation for the work they do," she said.

"We're here today to celebrate the amazing milestone of 10 million kg rescued since we started operations 11 years ago," added KiwiHarvest CEO Angela Calver.

But amid the celebrations is growing concern about the steady demand for food parcels.

"Food poverty is encroaching on everybody's life as the price of food goes up. We've got teachers that are coming in - you'd think a teacher wouldn't need a food parcel," said Accelerating Aotearoa founder Judy Speight.

KiwiHarvest said it's now feeding over 7000 more people compared to January 2020.

It coincides with food hardship grants. Demand spiked during the early years of COVID but hasn't come back down to those pre-lockdown levels.

It's telling that Auckland City Mission had its busiest start to the year ever in terms of food parcels after the weather events.

Last year they distributed almost twice the amount of food parcels compared to 2019 - but what's also concerning for them is that food donations have been declining because of the rising cost of living. KiwiHarvest has also seen donations fall.

"Of course we're watching that space, we need to continue to work in collaboration and we're always open-minded about where we can support and where there is a need," Sepuloni said.

The Minister seeing for herself the extent of that need and what it takes to keep people fed when food is too expensive.

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