Making the kai go further with the Aroha Free Pantry

Tucked in beside the Raglan iHub on Wainui Road, the Aroha Free Pantry is giving excess food a new lease of life and helping local people dealing with food poverty.

The pantry was built by Rose Wallis, who wanted to replicate the Whaingaroa Aroha stand that had been across the road but was taken down during the first Covid lockdown. 

You might have noticed the lady regularly restocking and tidying the pantry space; that’s Rose. 

As its name would suggest, the pantry was set up for food but clothing, books, knick knacks and other items are sometimes dropped off.

Jono Hutson, who helps Rose with the pantry and some of her other community projects, says theses items often take up space that food could occupy.

“It detracts from the pantry’s real purpose if there are mattresses or unwanted clothes or piles of rubbish. Some of those items should go to the Lion’s or Kaahu’s Nest.”

As for the rubbish, it ends up in the landfill at the expense of the pantry volunteers.

Jono says, they do their best to distribute the items to families but it takes away from their primary purpose of redistributing food to vulnerable whānau in Whaingaroa.

And not only does Rose look after the pantry she has also started Raglan Community Fruit and Vege, a fruit harvesting group.

Working with orchard owners, local gardeners and property owners with an abundance of produce, Rose, Jono and other volunteers gather the excess to restock the pantry, deliver to families in need, donate to the Surfside Foodbank and to the Feed the Kids project at Raglan Area School.

“The connections Rose has in the community are priceless,” Jono says. 

When she’s not harvesting fruit and vegetables, tidying and restocking the pantry, Rose also works with SuperValue to make and deliver food boxes to families every week.  

One look at the photos Rose shares on Facebook and you know she’s one hell of a gardener.

She’s the type of gardener whose excess produce doesn’t go to waste: if she’s not bottling, pickling and preserving, she’s sharing her garden surplus with family, friends and the wider community. And they might get a bottle or two of her preserves as well.

Rose puts the jars left at the pantry to good use, turning fruit and vegetables not suitable for consumption into delicious pickles and jam, and the delicious preserves end up back at the pantry.

Like most keen gardeners, Rose loves to grow food and she’d love to see fruit trees planted around Raglan that are accessible to the everyone.  

Join the Raglan Community Fruit and Veg Facebook page to find out how you can help. If you have spare fruit or veggies, please contact 07 825 7063 or text 027 385 5139 or drop off to the pantry.  

Build an Aroha Stand

Sunday 29 May, 2-4.30pm

Downstairs at the Raglan Community House

Learn more about Aroha Stands and how to build one for your neighbourhood!

Add to Raglan’s growing network of Aroha Stands where neighbours share food abundance. Meet some Aroha Stand guardians and find out why they love this kaupapa and how you can get involved. Enjoy some hands-on work designing and building an Aroha stand from upcycled pallets. Manu from the Tool Library will be supporting the workshop. Register with Tania at food@whaingaroa.org.nz

Cost: Non Timebank member – $10 or a donation | Timebank member – 2.5 time credits