June 30, 2022

Taking a village approach to improve food security

When community partners came together last year to share experiences and ideas around strengthening food resilience and growing a healthy food future in West Auckland, several underlying themes shone through – all focused on taking a village approach.

This idea of building a ‘kai village’ is now at the heart of a new initiative in Massey and Glenavon. 

The Kai Village concept was identified as an opportunity to develop strong community connections, foster local food growing and consumption, and work towards building better food resilience in local areas, explains Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator, Rea Kenkel,

“There are many whānau and individuals who struggle to put food on the table every day and every week, and this has been exacerbated by Covid-19. 

“West Auckland has an abundance of food relief initiatives, and more than 50% of these currently operating provide free food by way of food banks, pātaka and community dinners. These are certainly valuable in increasing access to food for our vulnerable communities. Still, despite the array of free food available, families continue to face insecure food sources ultimately impacting their health and wellbeing.”

The Kai Village will be focused on building a strong local food system that shortens the distance between food producers and consumers. The emphasis is on prioritising the localisation of all phases, from growing, foraging, preparing and packaging to sharing, eating and recycling.

Two initial areas in West Auckland have been identified for scoping and to test what the Kai Village could mean for each community.

“These areas are Massey and Glenavon, which both have vibrant community hubs that have the potential to be central to the Kai Village.

It puts all decisions relevant to kai in the hands of the local people involved with feeding their community, resulting in direct decision-making that ensures community needs are being met,” adds Rea.  

In the Massey Kai Village, initial community outreach has been completed, with a wider wānanga taking place in July to share ideas and future planning.   A similar process is expected to start shortly with the Glenavon Community Hub.

Kai West has led the initiative with support from an array of local partners, including Healthy Families Waitākere, Community Waitākere, EcoMatters, Massey Matters, WEST, MPHS, Glenavon Community Hub and Fair Food, and the Henderson-Massey, Waitākere Ranges and Whau Local Boards.