Ashburton CollegeEvery day Ashburton cafes and restaurants prepare food for sale; every day some of that food is unsold and finds its way into the town’s waste stream.

And every day there are people in Ashburton who cannot afford to buy even the most basic food they need for themselves and their families.

Members of Ashburton College’s student executive want to bring the two together as a community initiative that will create a community of winners.

They hope to establish a central town free-food store where cafes can leave surplus food and where those in need can collect it.

They say similar initiatives are running successfully in Christchurch and they’re confident the free food store concept would work in Ashburton.

The students are already leading a school-based initiative to provide morning tea for students who may have to come to school without breakfast or lunch.

They know the difference that initiative has made in students’ lives and they know there is significant need in the wider community.

Rather than just talking, they want to make the food exchange happen, but they know they cannot do this without significant community input.

Executive members are hoping for community feedback and ideas on the food project and they want to hear from cafe owners to understand better just how much food could be available.

They know there will be significant work involved in taking the project from idea to reality, and they know that buy-in from cafes and restaurants will be critical, but they believe the food project is long overdue.

They plan to meet with Ashburton Mayor Donna Favel to present their idea and are keeping their fingers crossed for support from her and district councillors.

While making no commitment, Favel has indicated she’s keen to meet with the students and to listen to their ideas.

Students are also keen to have a central town vegetable garden that could be cared for by volunteers with produce available to the community.

By Sue Newman © The Ashburton Guardian - 3 May 2019