Curbing food waste in Tauranga

A group of five, including two pursuing PhD’s, have developed a way of curbing food waste in Tauranga.

“We started a Facebook page and Instagram - @eightmecom – which connects Tauranga and Mount Maunganui businesses with customers nearby,” says Dacey Zelman-Fahm, “offering them a discounted price for quality food, that might ordinarily be thrown away.

“Businesses can earn extra money and attract new customers, who care about the environment or who just love a good bargain.”

Dacey, a spatial analyst working for an environmental consulting firm cleaning up contaminated groundwater, moved to Tauranga three and a half years ago from Tucson, Arizona with her husband Aaron and two cats.

I met Dacey on Facebook when Jiri Otahal, another one of the Eightme team, linked me into a group chat.

Jiri is from Czech Republic where he graduated with a Masters in Information Technology, and currently lives in Mount Maunganui, working as a programmer for companies around the world.

“We decided we’re going to try to reduce food waste here in Tauranga,” says Jiri. “We also started to work on a mobile app that would help us to save more food every single day.”

Already their food rescue project has been noticed online. The ‘Use Your Own Cup’ website – has written about them on their café directory website, with positive responses being posted by readers.

For Eightme to work effectively, the food on offer from the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui businesses has to be of good quality and discounted between 30 and 100 per cent. When I met them they had already started partnering with local cafes and restaurants and had rescued food from Octopus Café.

There are three other members in this team.

Aaron Uthoff is a strength and conditioning coach who helps athletes perform at the top of their game. Originally from Arizona, he moved to Tauranga three and half years ago to pursue a PhD in sports science at Auckland University of Technology while coaching at Tauranga  Boys’ College.

Ivana Hanzlikova is from the Czech Republic where she graduated with a Masters in Physiotherapy. Her love of research and physiotherapy led her to New Zealand where she is working towards her PhD. She is based at Adams Centre for High Performance in Mount Maunganui and concentrating on injury prevention.

Reta Hanson moved from Wellington three and a half years ago for a change of scenery and climate. An experienced graphic designer with over 15 years in the design industry she enjoys bringing her skills to this initiative.

All working for free on the project, the team is on a mission to help local businesses reduce food waste.