Meat the Need co-founder Wayne Langford is stepping down as general manager of the farmer-led charity.
He will take a seat at the board table, allowing him to focus on his role as Federated Farmers president.
The Golden Bay dairy farmer co-founded the charity alongside Siobhan O’Malley, launching in 2020 during the height of the covid lockdowns, to facilitate donations of livestock and milk from farmers to food banks across New Zealand.
He said he is incredibly proud of everything team Meat the Need has achieved in the past three years.
“What started as a simple idea has now grown into providing 1.4 million meat meals and 3 million milk meals to people in need through more than 110 food banks across the country,” he said.
“It’s been amazing to see what we can achieve as a team, and to do it at scale alongside our amazing processors Silver Fern Farms, Miraka, Fonterra and ANZCO.”
The idea for the charity was born when Langford and his family gave some mince to their local food bank in 2019.
“We were shocked when they told us it would feed families for a few months and we thought there must be something more we could do as farmers, to make sure we feed New Zealand first before we go out and feed the world,” he said.
It wasn’t about reinventing the wheel, he said – all farmers were missing was a link to be able to donate their livestock or milk to people in need. Meat the Need was able to connect all those dots to make it happen.
“It was about building relationships with food banks, farmers, processors and connecting the whole supply chain to ensure we could get a consistent supply to food banks. This is what we do as farmers, we feed our community and we’re making that connection through food.”
The charity has had a knock-on effect throughout communities.
This was seen following the devastating Canterbury floods in May 2021, when a local farmer who had donated animals had his farm decimated and needed a hand.
“We filled up a van with a bunch of men from the Christchurch City Mission men’s shelter, the very same men that had eaten the exact donation from that farmer, and headed out on farm to clean up his fences.”
Not only were they able to help a farmer in need, he said the men themselves were incredibly grateful for the fresh air and interested in farming, a completely new experience for many of them.
“Two of those men then got a job on a dairy farm in Ashburton and are still working,” he said. “That’s the butterfly effect in action, and it really brings you back down to earth about why we as farmers produce food, what we’re doing in our communities and the positive impact we can all have,” he said.
Meat the Need chair Julia Jones said she is incredibly grateful for Langford’s contribution and for co-founding the charity.
“If it wasn’t for Wayne, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to be working together, to do this mahi and be making a difference to people in need across the country. Wayne had a vision, the energy and the persistence to make it all happen.
“Getting nutrients to those most impacted by food poverty in New Zealand is something for Wayne to be extremely proud of,” she said.
She said she is looking forward to continuing to strengthen the charity with the board and the new general manager, who will be announced in the next fortnight.
Langford said he will still be working toward his ultimate goal – to make sure no one in NZ goes hungry.
“At the end of the day, if every farmer in New Zealand donated 0.1% of what they produce, we could feed New Zealand.”