Nominate your New Zealand food heroes

Food – where to get it, and what to cook – has been a huge preoccupation for many in lockdown.

With this new appreciation for the variety and quality of local food in a time of crisis, the New Zealand Food Awards, powered by Massey University, want to celebrate the people who make it all happen.

Due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards this year have shifted from their usual programme, which would have opened for entries on May 1, to instead generating a community-focussed celebration of innovators across all sectors of the food and beverage industry who have kept our hunger at bay and our taste buds buzzing.

New Zealand Food Awards is inviting individuals and organisations to get behind its ‘NZ Food Heroes’ campaign by nominating organisations or people – from the truckies delivering goods, to farmers, fruit pickers, food manufacturers and frontline checkout operators.

“Not only here in Aotearoa, but around the world, things have changed rapidly for the food and beverage industry. As we move in to level 2 and beyond, it’s important to acknowledge the hard workers continuing to bring the country’s food and beverage excellence, innovation and sustainability to our homes, and our bubbles,” says New Zealand Food Awards spokesperson, Kelly Douglas.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the campaign is an opportunity to recognise unsung heroes.

“Rather than skip a year, we want to take this opportunity to shine a light on the essential workers in the food and beverage sector and the stand-outs that have really made a difference,” she says. “The work that has continued to be undertaken by our food industries on the frontline has been invaluable, and I think New Zealand has come to see their role in a new light in recent weeks.”

The New Zealand Food Awards organisers and partners are mindful that food deprivation is a major issue for many households struggling on limited incomes for access to healthy, plentiful food at any time. “Our food heroes also include the people working to ensure food banks and food parcels are well-stocked and distributed amid lockdown restrictions and beyond so that families are not going without during this time,” Ms Douglas says.

“We’re also accepting nominations for those who pivoted to use their food and beverage powers to support the COVID-19 response. Did your local brewery shift from hops to hand sanitiser, for example?”

Here are just a few examples of nominations so far:

  • The Pure Food Co – nominated for teaming up with Age Concern New Zealand to deliver donated care packages to elderly in need. The Pure Food Co won the New Zealand Food Awards’ James & Wells Business Innovation 2019 Award, as well as Massey University’s Supreme Award.
  • Kokako Organic Coffee – nominated for supporting their Outposts (clients) by donating 25 per cent of the sale of each bag of coffee to the purchaser’s café of choice.
  • Villa Maria – nominating their harvesting crews for working tirelessly to ensure their crop was harvested, going above and beyond by living though lockdown away from their homes in camper van villages they set up to protect their workers.

Nominations are open for individuals or organisations that have supported the New Zealand food and beverage supply chain in some way. This could be anything from transporting freight to fruit picking, manufacturing for the masses or your Mum for doing the grocery shop for all the oldies in the neighbourhood. It might even be your company or your staff. You can make a nomination online here.

The New Zealand Food Awards has been celebrating New Zealand’s food manufacturers since 1987. Massey University’s involvement stems from the University’s lead role at the forefront of food-related education and research in New Zealand and globally for decades through a range of health and science programmes and research centres. From food science and product development to nutrition and dietetics, as well as farming and horticulture, Massey University’s name is synonymous with New Zealand’s innovative food sector. It is also home to the largest collection of pilot-scale food processing equipment in the Southern Hemisphere.

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