Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thumb’s up for food bank drive

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Waikato dairy farmer prepares to hitchhike from Auckland to Christchurch to raise awareness about The Big Feed telethon.
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A dairy farmer will be thumbing his way from Auckland to Christchurch next week, to raise awareness about The Big Feed live rural telethon and drive donations for food banks nationwide.  

North Waikato dairy farmer Colin Hickey, who has dubbed his journey The Hickey Tour, is planning the hitchhike as part of The Big Feed live rural telethon on Thursday December 14. The Meat the Need and Feed Out fundraising drive supplies mince and milk meals to more than 110 food banks nationwide. 

 “I’m a bit nervous about how the journey is going to go, but making it work is all part of the fun,” Hickey said. 

 An ambassador for the farmer-led charity, Hickey came up with the idea for the tour during last year’s telethon. 

 “I decided I wanted to be in Christchurch this year and with the tight dairy market we made a bit of a joke about having to hitchhike and it’s actually morphed into a reality,” he laughed.  The Hickey Tour will kick off before 4am with plans to catch rides from Auckland to Wellington, stopping at some landmarks along the way. Hickey will fly over the Cook Strait to Christchurch. 

 “I’m expecting my thumb will be pretty tired by then but I’ll keep going once I land in Christchurch to get to Lincoln,” he said. 

 “We haven’t got any contingency plans, we’ve just got to do it and get to Christchurch in time before the telethon wraps up. I’m hoping people will come on and be part of the cause so if you’re travelling that day, please help me out.”  

As well as sticking his thumb out, Hickey is also on the hunt for people who may be able to commit ahead of time to transporting him on the different legs of his journey, so he’s not left high and dry. 

Hickey came on board as a Meat the Need Champion two and a half years ago. As a dairy farmer milking 400 cows, he donates milk as well as his time. 

“I believe that every New Zealander should have access to the best protein in the world, which is what we produce, and it’s good to know that through this charity they can,” he said.

“We all know what protein does to a body and I just have a belief that no one should be hungry and because I’m a producer of the best protein and dairy in the world, it just makes sense that we look after our own first.” 

He’s also a staunch supporter of the concept that 100% of what is donated through Meat the Need and Feed Out goes to the end cause – the food banks. 

 “It’s also so bloody easy to donate milk. All you have to do is go online, say how much you want to do and it’s done.” 

Aware of how financially tough times are on farm right now, he believes it’s the collective that makes a difference. 

“It’s not the size of the donation, it’s the amount of people that can donate that makes a difference to what we can collectively achieve. If everyone gave a little bit of what we produced, we would all make a massive difference to hunger in New Zealand.” 

Having also seen first hand the sheer demand for food support through The Village Community Services Trust during last year’s Big Feed telethon, it blew him away. What he thought was a month’s supply of boxes was distributed in a day. 

“You don’t sort of realise the destitution some people are living in and the absolute need for such a service.”

The Big Feed is hosted by Matt Chisholm, Dave Letele and Wayne Langford, starting at 6am on December 14th and livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube, the Meat the Need website and Vimeo. 

Farmers can donate livestock or milk online now, and anyone can also choose to donate a “virtual animal”. 

People can also donate by texting “feed” to 3493 to make an automatic $3 donation or pledge funds online as well. 

 On the day donations can be made by calling 0800 632 884, with 100% of all donations turned into mince and milk meals for food banks nationwide. 

 If anyone is interested in giving Hickey a lift on his journey, message Meat the Need on Facebook. 

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