The underpant-sporting superheroes of food

By jay

Kaibosh rescues quality surplus food all over Wellington and delivers it to folks in need. You can help. 

Kaibosh was a double winner at the 2015 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.  It won the Community Impact and Mega Efficiency Impact categories. 

Kaibosh was founded by Robyn and George Langlands in 2008. They collected excess products from Wishbone food stores and delivered it to Wellington Women’s Refuge. Kaibosh brought in external consultants for a strategic review in 2012 to set it up for scale and longevity. It now has paid staff, its own premises and trucks. But the service is still not-for-profit and free for food donors and the recipients.  

The organisation, along with other similar food sharing arrangements, got a legal boost in the Food Act 2014. Section 352 provided immunity from liability for food donors, as long as food is safe when donated and the recipient is given the information they need to keep it that way.

With the help of a dedicated team of more than 120 volunteers, Kaibosh now rescues and sorts food seven days a week. The team delivers more than 10,000kg of quality surplus food each month to community groups supporting people in need. That’s the equivalent of 28,500 meals and a 7,785kg reduction in carbon emissions. 

Kaibosh has recently set up a new branch in Lower Hutt and its service covers most of the greater Wellington area.  

Matt Dagger, Kaibosh general manager says: “We intend to be here for the long term. There’s no point in setting something up and then disappearing. You can’t create a service that people rely upon and then leave.”

Kaibosh keeps things as lean as possible. But with costs running at about $400,000 a year, they have also become keen fundraisers.

This month they are asking supporters to Make a Meal in May and donate the proceeds.

Matt says: “The idea is that you make a meal at home, donate what you would have spent on a meal out.” 

“For every $20 donated, Kaibosh can provide the equivalent of 33 meals to those in our community who need it most.”

For the second-year running Kaibosh is fundraising with Wairarapa-based organic underwear company Thunderpants and All Good Bananas. A full production run of about 2,500 special banana-emblazoned clothing will go on sale across the country throughout June and July. 

For each pair sold, Thunderpants will donate $2 to Kaibosh, and All Good will give them a bunch of bananas.

Matt says: “Sustainability has become more high profile and important. At the same time awareness of issues of poverty has become mainstream, especially since the Global Financial Crisis. What Kaibosh does has caught the Zeitgeist. Because people are aware that we have a solution and are making in-roads, so they are prepared to back our work.”