Using volunteers for a food-sharing service and social initiative, ‘The Food Circle’, is a proposal put forward by one of this year’s Management Challenge teams – Hiko Hauraki of Hauraki District Council. The proposal is a fantastic example of engaging with the local community to support well-being while sourcing knowledge on how to grow food and cook seasonal, healthy meals.

The proposal has volunteers growing fruit trees on council reserves, alerting others in the community about what’s available to take, picking or using from the community garden, sharing gardening tips, seasonal recipes and preservation tips.

Community interconnectedness, learning empowered communities and reducing waste are some of the areas that the local government sector needs to consider for the future well-being of their communities. The proposal put forward by Hiko Hauraki would enable the community to connect with each other while reducing food waste and providing for those in need.

“Our Council was looking at the well-being of our communities and how it could reduce deprivation levels” said Hiko Hauraki team member Sarah Holmes.

“For us, the success of this initiative would be the community working together for themselves and each other. Ideally we would like families not to have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or how they might use cannellini beans in a meal”.

An app would enable users to contribute anything from letting the community know that there are ample plums for picking on a council reserve, to sharing a recipe for plum jam, or donating a jar of plum sauce. The service would rely on community knowledge and generations of experience in gardening, harvesting, preparation and cooking knowledge.

This year’s Management Challenge teams were required to develop and evaluate ideas for new or improved service delivery through an innovative use of volunteering. After coming up with a suitable idea, each team was then required to consult with their council’s senior leadership team and with a small sample of their community on the proposal.

With all that’s happened this year, the team is yet to present their idea to the Council but believe they will be just as excited about the idea when they do present it – especially as parts of Waihi, Paeroa and Kerepehi in the Hauraki District have been identified as being in the 20% most deprived areas of New Zealand*.

We wish them all the best!

*As indicated by New Zealand’s Deprivation Index.