Distributing one million food items this term a tremendous task

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“It’s a good day for it, surprise, surprise, it’s not raining for a change!”

And with that the early morning quietness of the KidsCan premises is replaced with sound of a clattering opening roller door as operations team member Aroha Rule walks into the warehouse ready for one of her busiest weeks of the year.

As Aroha switches on the big overhead florescent lights you can see why, the warehouse is full with aisles of food products all neatly packed by type and pallets-upon-pallets stacked high above eye level.

“Trucks have been dropping off supplies for the past few weeks, and soon with the help of volunteers one million food items will go out to schools over the next two weeks. It’s full on that’s for sure.”

Packing close to 15,000 cartons of food items means it’s the largest food distribution so far for the KidsCan team, after 583 partner schools put in food orders for Term 4. There’s a variety of items from fruit pottles, scroggin mix, baked beans, yoghurt, spreads and snack bars.

How much product, and what product, varies from school-to-school depending on the food need at that present time. You see the number of children suffering from food insecurity changes, some children have a change of fortune for the better, while others suddenly have a sick parent who can’t work, or the rent goes up, or the car breaks down, or someone is made redundant… the list of ‘or’ is a long one.

The schools take their responsibility seriously and Aroha hears first-hand how grateful they are for the KidsCan supplies. Reducing the stress of hardship at school allows children to focus in the classroom, participate at school, and feel equal to their peers, providing them with improved educational opportunities and preventing lifelong patters of underachievement. 

“It’s pretty special, knowing what a difference this food will make.” 

Aroha and the rest of the KidsCan Operations team - Indra, Garry and Stephen have the orders from each school printed out, now all they need is the help from volunteers to get the food items packed and off to the right school.

Today, it’s first time volunteer Ranj donning a reflective vest to stack pallets with food. She grins from ear-to-ear describing what an enlightening experience it its.

“It is very satisfying because you know it is going to end up with the children who are from lower social economic background and who may be hungry to just help them during the day at school. It is pretty special to be part of.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Ramela who is back for her 6th packing session and says while it’s physical work it’s good fun.

“There is a lot of work involved, and we can see it first-hand just the amount of food that is going out of here. It is really important, and I just love being able to help in some small way.”

In fact, over the two, aptly named ‘distribution’ weeks there will be 55 volunteers from some of KidsCan’s corporate partners across five sessions helping the KidsCan team. While they pack, the KidsCan operations team is making sure the new wave of trucks arrive at the right time to take the divvied up pallets of food out to the schools.

KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman says, “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. It is a mammoth logistical operation getting supplies out to our KidsCan Schools. They’re helping us and helping change children’s lives, how special is that!”

The food is provided thanks in part to partnerships and support from generous Kiwi businesses and corporate sponsors like Principal Partner Meridian Energy, as well as KidsCan’s community of caring monthly donors.

“This is just one of the tangible impacts their $15 a month has. Don’t forget after the food distribution, then comes the raincoats, shoes and socks, plus the health and hygiene items,” says Julie.

One of the volunteers Marcus says there are a lot of kids doing it tough in New Zealand and that’s why he is back supporting KidsCan.

“It’s really cool knowing where all the products end up. We’ve had contact with a couple of the schools that receive KidsCan pallets and they love it.”

“Thanks to our community of caring Kiwis we have just recently achieved our goal of reaching 700 schools by Christmas. What a milestone when you think we started out in just 40 low decile schools,” says Julie, “Of course, we still have more schools waiting for help next year and hope to hear from more caring Kiwis who want to be part of the solution and become monthly donors. But for now, it’s inspiring to know more than 168,000 children are being giving a hand up so they can have a brighter future. What a gift.”

That is why, despite the weather, the early starts and the pallets-and-pallets of supplies that have come in one way, are redistributed and then head back out again to a new destination piled high with food, Aroha is smiling, ready to do it all again tomorrow with a new bunch of volunteers.