Food banks and food rescue organisations: Damned if they do; damned if they don’t


  • Susan Wason University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand



Food banks, food rescue, neoliberal, socio-political, Dunedin, New Zealand


INTRODUCTION: Food banks, a charitable response to a politically driven crisis in Aotearoa New Zealand, have become institutionalised. They emerged in an ad hoc manner and, since the 1980s, have helped address the emergency food needs of those experiencing food poverty. Food Rescue organisations, a later creation, emerged in an organised and planned manner. They have helped to address the needs of those experiencing food poverty by increasing the quantity, and the amount of perishable food available for distribution.

METHOD: This article draws on academic literature and research of the Dunedin/Otepoti newsprint media completed for a thesis in 2017 to provide background about how these organisations came to exist and the socio-political context that supports their existence.

FINDINGS: The development of food banks in Dunedin/Ōtepoti reflected the global explanations for their rise; however, with the advent of KiwiHarvest the mechanisms for addressing food poverty are undergoing a paradigm shift.

IMPLICATIONS: These new mechanisms have the potential to be more inclusive of those experiencing food poverty. Choice of food, involvement of recipients in the policy setting and the distribution of food, and fewer criteria are possible innovations. There are also opportunities for this new paradigm to extend and enhance the traditional role of food banks in conversations and actions that address social justice issues.


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How to Cite

Wason, S. (2019). Food banks and food rescue organisations: Damned if they do; damned if they don’t. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 31(4), 71–83.



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