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CEO Report 2021

CEO Report 2021



Ko Ranginui kei runga                                      To the sky father above

ko Papatuanuku kei raro                                   To mother earth below

ko nga tangata kei waenganui                         To the people in between

E nga manuhiri tuarangi                                    To our distinguished visitors

E te whanau whanui                                          To our wider family

E te whanau                                                         To our family


Tēnā koutou tēnā koutou tēnā tātou katoa                  Greetings!



In my report for 2017 I triumphantly reported that FBC had redistributed 86 tonnes for the year, resourcing  250,000 meals – exciting times!


Here we stand at the end of 2021.

Never before has our work been so important; never before have we had the support that we do; so, it’s a huge thanks to all who keep this waka not just afloat but moving forward.

To our Board who keep us pointing true north; to our funders who keep us afloat every day; for our Donor/Partners who provide the resources we travel with; to our wonderful team of paddlers – our volunteers who provide the power to keep us powering forward and of course to our staff who every day guide and steer as well as provide the grunt that makes us who we are – all working together to serve those who need us most – the food insecure and those at risk.

An enormous vote of thanks!



We entered 2021 reeling from a new world thrust upon us. A world which made us sit back and rethink what it is that we do and how we can do it better, smarter, more effectively. We realized that the world was not going to be what it was before.

As Muhammed Musa of BRAC international so astutely said: “Our principle must be to build the plane as we fly because this is a time of crisis”   …  we needed to adopt a business approach to ending hunger and feeding hope.


NFPs all across NZ were struggling to deal with the everyday urgencies of the pandemic crisis while trying desperately to build resilience for tomorrow and all this in a world where we had no template for the future.


At FBC we realised we had to re-think. We needed to examine our entire financial system from cashflows through forecasting. We need to consider whether to purchase needed assets as against leasing; our physical space requirements needed examination – it is no good investing in space that might not be necessary (can’t see this, personally!) in the years to come; we need to examine our people resource strategies to balance work-life and wellbeing within the organisation’s operation. And above all we needed to keep in our vision, the achievement of our Mission/kaupapa. And let’s not overlook our wider constituents – our collaborators, volunteers, and communities. All this in an era of unknowns.


Last year in September UNICEF released a report comparing the performances of forty-one high-income countries on child welfare issues, from suicide rates to childhood obesity, education, and environment. New Zealand was at the bottom third in 35th place.


COVID-19 laid bare a level of urgency and opportunity not being met by the ‘traditional’ agencies in our space. The desperation in some communities was growing as the crisis rolled on. Our role was to listen and maximize our impact. This was a moment for us to lead and to disrupt what has stood in the way of the change. As the world evolves in the almost-post pandemic era, we had to evolve along with it. We needed to change what it meant to just be a food bank.



Over the past few years, we have always envisaged Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand becoming a driving force for the New Zealand food rescue sector. With the totally fragmented state of the sector and many fringe players trying to assert their ideas and values into the mix, this was not a realisation that was going to happen overnight and especially in this COVID era. Through many consultations with our Global FoodBanking Network mentors we stepped back from this concentrating on our immediate business – moving more into the food relief space and adopting the GFN mantra ‘Hunger Relief Now. Resilience Tomorrow’ and especially for our immediate communities.


There was no doubt that COVID-19 had changed our environment – both in terms of Mission and logistics. We could not predict what was ahead, what we did know was that it would not be a ‘business-as-usual’ paradigm. It would be new and if we were to remain in front of our mission we could not adopt – as a number of the established agencies in our sector were doing – the situation of “this is the way we have always done things – and that’s just fine.”



Tomorrow’s world is not today’s – we’ve learnt that over the past few months. We had to explore different and more innovative approaches to our work. We needed to continuously question yesterday’s methods and assumptions and prepare for a different tomorrow. We needed to plug the gaps left wide open by others.

This was the challenge!


Did we stand up to meet this challenge?  You bet we did – together with all of you, our Donor Partners, our Supporters, our Funders, our volunteers and our staff whanau we re-imagined ourselves to create innovative approaches to meet the challenge head-on.



FBC – our core business – collecting as much food and food-based resources as possible, checking it as fit for human consumption and redistributing it on a daily basis – this just took off. I mentioned earlier what we were achieving in 2017 – 86 tonnes and 250,000 meals. Today we are processing more than that each and every month and resourcing 254,000 meals monthly. We work in partnership and collaboration with more than 150 community-based agencies: food pantries, women’s refuges, Maraes, Plunkett, after-school programs, Iwi and Pasifika social organisations, Community housing complexes, Corrections, soup kitchens, school systems – all who work directly with our communities throughout our region. Our Timaru Hub last month went over 14 tonnes for the first time ever! It’s local people working with local people!





Food For Hope

While we concentrated on the main metropolitan centres, the word was beginning to come through that those in the more rural areas were feeling the pinch just as much and with the added problems of being remote. We introduced a new division – the Food For Hope Initiative. We were fortunate to obtain some designated funding and appointed a Regional Development Manager to lead the initiative. Since July we have collaborated with navigators from Te Putahitanga and others and are now covering an area from Twizel in the South to Kaikoura in the north; we have opened discussions with the West Coast – and delivered 3 truckloads during the Westport flooding a few months ago. This is a collaborative initiative working alongside and supporting organisations already on the ground in these areas.


“…  …  we have been holding off hoping that I would find more work. There have been days when I and the wife have gone with just a peanut butter sandwich between us so that the kids could have some meat and veg  ...  …  I have never asked for help before but today I broke and reached out - got a wonderful box of your food. I just ran to my truck – I didn’t want anyone to see a Tradie of 46 years crying! Thank you”



And then, as 2020 progressed we began to realise that the traditional food relief agencies were not filling the need, we recognised we had to turn and figure out how to navigate an unknown and complex situation while scaling our business in ways that we’d never really even imagined -  we needed to re-align and step up to fill the void.


Enter the HAT’s program.

At least twice a week, teams of corporate and service club volunteers spend up to a couple of hours packing out HATs Family Care Packs – boxes containing the eight staple foods plus ambient vegetables together with family care products such as shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, moisturiser, laundry powder etc. These care packs are then dropped off at geographic distribution points around the City available for whomever requests a pack – no questions asked  …  …  completely unconditional. The packs also go out through the Plunkett Society.

The program has been such a success that we are now have a waiting list of corporate volunteers and have just had a planning group meet to decide on  how to effectively manage the future growth of the program.



A few months ago, one of distribution centres told us they were not giving away all of their packs due to lack of demand. This increased as the weeks went by – so we closed that centre.

A month ago, we established a new trial initiative with the Ministry of Education - Ka Au Kahuraki - teaching those becoming more self-sufficient to cook. The project is centred in an area where our diminishing HATs distribution centre was, and then we were told that these people had been the recipients of our HATs Care Packs but had now progressed to becoming more self-sufficient and they don’t rely on the HATs packs any longer – now we know! This is the impact of the program! Tomorrow we are meeting with the MoE and the DIA to discuss extending this program for the next year!



So, in a nutshell – this is Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand – today on a volume basis, the largest food relief organisation in the country!

And in such a big part – thanks to everyone here!


The events of 2020 and 2021 put a spotlight on what is most essential to our business success: talent, transformation, trust and collaboration. By following these guideposts, it has been our goal to create an organisation built to last. We managed to move that thru 2021. As of the end of November, these past 11 months, we have redistributed 1 million kgs of food!




Embracing the change has required us to transform processes, build a scalable and flexible infrastructure, and provide a safe, secure environment for collaboration. This is our moral imperative and this needs to continue.


Targeted approaches to the food security needs can profoundly impact society - breaking the cycle of poverty, building human capital, and driving economic development for generations to come – and all along helping reduce food waste and assist climate change imperatives.


As I have attempted to outline, this is a time of utmost importance for FBC as a major food relief player. We need to continue to fly while we build the plane.


This past month saw all the efforts of all those involved at FBC nationally recognised.

Not only was FBC named as the Business For Good category winner and the Community Impact category winner in the Westpac Champion Business Awards for 2021, we were named the Supreme Winner Small Enterprise! Congratulations, everyone!




From the very beginning 5 years ago, we have dared to believe.

But we cannot do it alone. We need each and every one of you. And we’re pleading to our leaders at all levels and in every sector, and funders to really look around and see the amount of pain and distress that is unfortunately so rapidly spreading across our regions. We need to work together to achieve

“Hunger Relief Now. Resilience Tomorrow.” As Kiwis together – we can do it!



In conclusion: In Janice’s and my office we have posted a quote – a very inspirational quote from the great Theodore Roosevelt:   …  … “it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena – whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again  …  …  who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly  …  …  daring to believe.


For some glorious moments over the past couple of years, we dared to believe  …  …

Our heartfelt thanks to all of you, each and every one – for you have dared with us.



John Milligan



© Foodbank Aotearoa New Zealand / Canterbury  December 2021





In terms of the NZ Government applicable COVID-19 Protection Framework, all Foodbank ANZ/Canterbury facilities are Vaccination Mandated. We appreciate your respect.

FBANZ full financials can be found on the Charities Services website

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