South Island farmers band together to share their meat with those in need

Farmers across the South Island are banding together to share their meat with those in need.

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With grocery budgets stretched more than ever, it’s become a luxury for plenty of people. Source: Seven Sharp

Culverden farmers Mark and Jane Schwass feel for those struggling to put food on the table.

“You just feel a bit sad, for people who can't afford proper food,” she said.

So they joined a pack of farmers donating livestock to charity.

The idea, called Meat the Need, is the brainchild of Wayne Langford.

“Everyone in the community has their role to play and as farmers we grow food, we feed people, it's really simple,” he said.

The idea came while Mr Langford was on another journey, because he’s also NZ’s “YOLO farmer”.

“We [Mr Langford's family] found ourselves in a pretty dark place you could say, on a farm and not living life the way we wanted, I guess,” Mr Langford explained about the family’s 'only live once' challenge.

“So we challenged ourselves as a family to do something every day for 365 days to say we'd lived for that day, and now 1068 days later here we are.”

On day 546 he made a donation to a food bank.

“We took some mince to our local food bank and when I asked how long this would last, thinking they would say two or three days, they said two or three months, you know, and I couldn't believe it,” he said.

Fast-forward just over a year and Mr Langford is in a partnership with farmer Siobhan O’Malley.

“I’m loving working with her, she's a special human,” he said.

The help of Silver Fern Farms has also been crucial.

“They’ve been super generous. They donated, for example, the first five tonnes to just get us underway,” he said.

About 250 animals have been donated and delivered to 37 food banks across the South Island, with the North Island in the works.

The donations aren’t limited to meat.

“We've had the arables guy here on the Canterbury Plains wanting to donate grain, honey and the most obvious one is of course dairy. We're in talks with some large processors as to how we can make that happen,” Mr Langford said.

“We produce all this food, we export 95 per cent of the milk we produce, 90 per cent of the red meat we produce.

“Why have we got people going hungry in New Zealand, you know? It's crazy.

“So let's feed New Zealand, simple as that. It's not a hand-out, it's a hand-up.”