Palmerston North food rescue organisation helping mum-of-five afford sports for kids

A Palmerston North organisation is rescuing food which would otherwise be destined for landfill and instead giving it to those in the community who need it.

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Victoria Sharp says getting free food from Just Zilch in Palmerston North means her children don't miss out on activities that cost money. Source: 1 NEWS

One of those people who uses the service is a mother of five, Victoria Sharp, who this morning told Breakfast Just Zilch allowed her three youngest kids to play sports - something her older children had to miss out on as they couldn't afford it.

Sharp said she moved to Palmerston North from Auckland about three-and-a-half years ago to be closer to family, but it was on the cusp of a housing crisis.

Sharp, who has mental health issues and her husband who has back issues, spent all their savings to get into a house, even using emergency housing for a time. They are both on benefits.

"It was a bit tough to begin with, you know, finding a place and we were a bit tight.

"We were just one step away from being in desperate need."

However, Sharp said her brother let her know about Just Zilch which helped ease that financial burden.

"It makes a significant difference in my grocery bill each week," she said.

"It was really helpful at the time and we got into a bit of a better situation but we're still, we're pretty tight, like we didn't have a lot.

"We've got our basics covered, you know, food on the table, bills paid, roof over out heads, kids took lunch to school, but we didn't have much left over for the extras."

Sharp explained how her eldest two children had never done a sport, but with the help of Just Zilch, Caelyn Harris, 13, Lilly Sharp, 7, and Phoenix Sharp, 6, now play t-ball, gymnastics and touch rugby.

"We found that we could never afford the uniforms or anything," she said. "But we found that coming here regularly we save just enough money that I can actually afford to.

"It's huge, it's huge. The stuff that they learn, the social interactions ... I didn't know how much they were missing out until I was able to give them that and I don't have the words to describe how meaningful it is.

"The emotional and mental health of our family is healthier now, it's better now than it was before."

Now Sharp is a volunteer at the food rescue service which is this week celebrating 10 years of helping the community.

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Just Zilch founder Rebecca Culver says "everyone deserves food". Source: Breakfast

Just Zilch founder Rebecca Culver, also on Breakfast, said the organisation had grown from having about 25 volunteers and food donations from six to 10 places serving the needs of around 80 people a day.

Now, a decade later, they make up about 350 food parcels going out every day, Monday to Friday.

"It really started off small but it's grown into something amazing," Culver said.

"Just Zilch is a little bit different from a food bank, we're a food rescue and free store and so what we're doing is we're saying that actually everyone deserves food, there's not criteria or testing.

"Everyone has times of need and it's different for everyone."

The way the free store works is people come in and can select the things that they need and will use.

Culver said since they don't always know what they'll be donated, it's not like a supermarket, but more like a supplement to grocery shopping.

"We can't guarantee what it is that we have so sometimes it might be soup, sometimes it might be coffee, sometimes there might be hummus, and those don't necessarily make a whole meal in themselves and we will never guarantee to have everything a supermarket has but the things that you get here will supplement what you would otherwise get at the supermarket."