The idea for The Foodbank Project came about because my wife and I try to make a habit of putting something in the food bin each time we shop at our local supermarket.

It became clear that the items donated are not meeting the increasing demand on local foodbanks.

I wondered if people would be more inclined to donate more generously if they could see stats and infographics demonstrating the level of need—and how much (or little!) Kiwis are actually giving day-to-day.

With The Foodbank Project, donors are buying something tangible. They are buying actual food items, which are donated directly to foodbanks.

Based on my experience running Lucid, I was inspired to apply “lean startup” mentality to a not-for-profit online store where everything purchased is given away.

The dream was to create a very low-overhead, self-sustaining, not-for-profit online store that required very little input and management—while making it so easy for New Zealanders to donate food online that supply might one day exceed demand!

I wanted to create an online donation platform that enabled people to purchase something tangible—a physical item—which would be given directly to those in need.

I originally intended to run this as a side-project—and much of the work up until the pilot launch has been undertaken in the evenings from the couch! To keep things simple and avoid the need for complex infrastructure, I thought I would simply take orders made on the website and fulfil them myself weekly through Countdown’s online store—with orders being delivered to existing foodbanks nearest to the donors.

It would be business as usual for Countdown and for the existing foodbanks.

In mid-2014, I whipped up a basic, functional prototype and sent emails to a couple of existing foodbanks to share the idea and see if they would like to be involved on the receiving end.

We are all extremely excited by this project and its potential to help Kiwis in need.

The only response I got was from The Salvation Army in Wellington, who were extremely enthusiastic! They immediately saw this as a fantastic opportunity to boost donations to their struggling foodbanks. And they were genuinely excited about its potential.

As partners in Countdown’s New Zealand Food Rescue programme, The Salvation Army approached Countdown to see if they were interested in being more closely involved, too.

Countdown was enthusiastic from the outset, too, and in May 2015, we all met at Progressive Enterprises HQ in Auckland to discuss what a project like this might look like. Going from an idea to reality has been a team effort and I have been humbled by the support of everyone involved so far.

Huge huge thanks to Camille, Shane, and the team from The Salvation Army, and James, Norm, and the team at Countdown for their enthusiasm and support in making this happen. There is no way we could have come this far and launched with something so great without their support! Thank you.

We are all extremely excited by this project and its potential to help Kiwis in need.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Galen King
The Foodbank Project