Farmer charity group Meat the Need goes from strength to strength

Farmer charity group Meat the Need is going from strength to strength, with more than 1000 animals being donated for foodbanks around the country.

Since being launched in April by founders Siobhan O'Malley and Wayne Langford, the initiative has been fully embraced by farmers.

Julia Jones, head of analytics at NZX, is on the organisation's board and says there has been an "absolutely overwhelming" response. 

"I think it's just a testament to how much farmers genuinely want to feed people - they want to provide food for people," Jones told Magic Talk's Rural Today on Monday.  

"They can't believe that someone wouldn't be able to access meat and they want to help those families. They walk in those people's shoes and they think, 'How would I feel if I couldn't help my family?'"

Jones says from the moment she first heard about the initiative from Langford "it just made sense". She is now one of four board members at the charity.

"Wayne kind of mentioned it to me about a year ago, and as soon as he said it it just made sense. Within the first sentences I was like 'yes, this is perfect'. He was talking about supply chain and the commercials of it and how to make it effective, and so when he asked me I felt, very, very honoured, and I was elated to be part of it."

Farmers donate an animal, which is then sold - and the proceeds from that go towards buying premium mince, which is delivered to foodbanks.

Jones says it's important that the meat given to foodbanks is of the highest quality.

"Just because you are in need shouldn't  mean you have to compromise on your nutrition - if anything, the stress of that actually means you need the best nutrition you can get."

So far most of the donations have come from the farmers in the South Island, which Jones says is mostly a result of timing issues and the fact that many regions in the North Island have been battling drought conditions. 

"I do ask and encourage North Islanders to get onboard. We haven't donated into foodbanks into the North Island yet, but we need to get the donations happening up here and then we will be getting food into the North Island foodbanks as well."

The charity is currently looking at how to introduce dairy products to the initiative as well, using the same supply chain system, Jones says.