July 18 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

In just two years, the Tokoroa-based Halo Charitable Trust has distributed almost 400,000kgs of food, equating to around 1.2 million meals, to whānau in need of help in the South Waikato.

Recently, the trust had a helping hand in the form of rugby league star Joseph Manu, who is also an ambassador for the trust, and was born and raised in the South Waikato’s timber town.

Halo Charitable Trust manager Marina Hagevoort said Halo works with around 30 South Waikato community organisations and runs a food distribution hub in Tokoroa that supplies food to local foodbanks and other organisations in the region.

Halo is part of the Food Rescue Programme run by Progressive Enterprises which operates the Woolworths, Countdown and Foodtown supermarkets in New Zealand.

Hagevoort said they would not be able to do their work without help from Trinity Lands, a Putāruru-based agricultural trust that supports a range of community organisations in the South Waikato and New Zealand.

“We work with community organisations from Tīrau through to Tokoroa, our kaupapa is food distribution, so we supply all those groups who do the work at the coalface,” she said.

“They do amazing work and there’s no doubt that demand has got a lot higher, particularly in the last three months.”

She said since Trinity Lands helped Halo set up its distribution hub two years ago the trust had distributed about 390,000kgs of food and supplies to local organisations, which works out to be around 1.2 million meals.

‘We were very busy during the first lockdown and this has just continued.

“Our organisations are telling us that people who are working are now accessing this service due to the cost of living.

“By the time they pay power, rent, school uniforms and fuel, food is often the one that is on the bottom of the list, and it runs out in no time,” she said.

Brett Fleming is general manager for sustainability at Trinity Lands, which owns and operates about 20 farms in the South Waikato giving back around 55% of its profits to charities.

“In Halo’s case we finance things like infrastructure – we pay for the lease for their Tokoroa hub – and bought them a refrigerated vehicle, along with freezers and shelving – the nuts and bolts that underpin the operation.

“We just want to help the community, and often we see people with really good ideas and we want to help them with the sorts of things that allow them to do their good work.

“Some of the different organisations we work with are now working with each other, and we are pleased to be able to help build those networks and help them work together more efficiently and productively.”

Manu, 26, plays for the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition and for New Zealand. He was part of the Roosters’ 2018 and ‘19 grand final winning teams and made his debut for the Kiwis in their famous 2018 win over Australia at Mount Smart Stadium.

Hagevoort said Manu was stoked to be able to give a bit back to his home town and she was proud to say he was the trust’s ambassador.

“He’s a great role model for our kids and it’s great to watch peoples’ faces when he arrives.

“He loves what we do and said he really enjoys helping us out when he’s back in town.

“He’s been in the van out there delivering food, and delivering food to his own people is very humbling for him.”