Foodstuffs partners with community organisations to open more social supermarkets

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

This building in Kaitaia is being transformed into a social supermarket, opening next month to provide the Far North's whānau and communities in need with new choices.

As part of its commitment to be Here for NZ and a promise to provide New Zealanders with access to healthy affordable food and supporting communities to thrive, Foodstuffs – the 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-operatives behind PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square – is expanding its innovative social supermarket initiative to a new partnership in the Far North, which will provide the dignity of choice for whānau in the region who need support with accessing food.

The new social supermarket will be called Te Hiku Pātaka and plans to be up and running in Kaitaia by late May. Foodstuffs has partnered with Te Kahu Oranga Whānau, a collective of iwi and Māori organisations in Te Hiku o te Ika (the Far North), including Waitomo Papakāinga Development Trust, Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri, Te Rūnanga o te Rarawa and Tuhiata Mahi Ora who are all pulling together to transform the premises in Kaitaia, into a social supermarket.

The collective chose the name Pātaka as it refers to a food storehouse or community pantry - a place that replenishes local whānau and is contributed to by all. The Pātaka will enable people experiencing food insecurity to choose their own items from a wide selection of groceries, rather than being issued a standard food parcel.

"It's about nourishing our whānau and communities, affirming our tikanga of sharing kai and growing, harvesting and gathering kai," said Phillip Murray of Te Kahu Oranga Whānau.

"The Pātaka will be a place where our people can experience manaaki, being served and supported with dignity, respect and aroha. It's a place where whānau can exercise their own choices. It's also a place that feels, looks and sounds like it's for them as well, so it will be a place where people will feel comfortable to come and get access to the food they need."

Foodstuffs North Island Head of Membership Experience Willa Hand says, this initiative is an important part of the co-operative’s promise to be Here for NZ, making a commitment to ensure everyone in Aotearoa has access to healthy food and supporting communities to thrive.

Hand emphasised how dignified choice is at the heart of the Pātaka, making it different from other food relief.

"When people have an emergency and need food, they come to a traditional foodbank and more often than not just get given what they get given. That's really helpful, but it doesn't take into consideration cultural needs, allergies, food likes and dislikes," she said.

"The idea behind social supermarkets is that when individuals or families have an emergency need for whatever reason - maybe they're having a tough week, or a tough month and are struggling to put food on the table – we can do more than just give them what we have in a pre-packed food parcel. The intention is to have a range of products on the shelves in our social supermarket that enables them to come in, have the dignity of choosing the products they need themselves, so they can make the kind of meals they want to cook, shopping in an environment that looks and feels like a normal supermarket."

The opening of Te Hiku Pātaka follows the success of a Social Supermarket partnership between Foodstuffs North Island and Wellington City Mission. In its first year of operation, this initiative helped 3,268 Wellingtonians who needed food support shop with dignity in a supermarket environment and also access other support services to help them get back on their feet.

Foodstuffs, who donated over 8.9 million meals through its Here for NZ food rescue partnerships and relationships in 2021, now plans to roll out their social supermarket initiatives to more communities in the year ahead. Discussions are already underway with community partners in six different regions, including Tauranga and Whangarei, to set up similar social supermarkets and make a meaningful difference to New Zealanders in need of food support. 

Every social supermarket will be different, tapping into the local knowledge of community partners to tailor the offering for the needs of each community. The Foodstuffs team bring many years of retail expertise, logistical support and equipment, such as shelving and fridges for food displays, as well as providing training to the community team who will be running the supermarkets. 

Foodstuffs, whose stores are 100% locally owned and operated, also provides financial support and stock through the local PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square stores to the community organisations can serve those in need with confidence.

It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks the building will be transformed into a fully-fledged supermarket environment.  The team are amazing, they bring their years of experience and mahi to bring the place to life to help others.  It’s a great experience for all of us to be making a meaningful difference.” 

For more information about Foodstuffs’ commitment to be Here for NZ and to download the latest social action report please go to the Foodstuffs website here

Learn more about the social supermarket initiative in our video here.