Crowne Plaza Queenstown: Fighting Food Waste With Volunteer Pedal Power

Crowne Plaza hotel is helping to save high quality fresh food from landfill by volunteering staff time with KiwiHarvest.

It’s a sunny autumn morning in Queenstown. Katie Robertson, Director of Sales and Marketing at Crowne Plaza, straps on her bike helmet ready to hop on KiwiHarvest’s food recovery e-bike in Queenstown’s CBD.

Katie has six collection stops at local cafés, with her sights set on the delivery destination – the Salvation Army on Gorge Road - ahead of a community canteen event at midday.

Katie Robertson on an e-bike as a food rescue volunteer for KiwiHarvest
Katie Robertson volunteering for KiwiHarvest

Katie, along with more than two-thirds of Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s workforce have signed up to volunteer on a Wednesday morning as part of Crowne Plaza’s partnership with food rescue service, KiwiHarvest.

Inspired by work underway with Intercontinental Hotel Group and OzHarvest in Australia, GM Crowne Plaza Stewart Manson, saw an opportunity to join forces with KiwiHarvest, a not-for-profit organisation focused on rescuing good quality surplus food, and nourishing New Zealand communities in need.

Stewart contacted Gary Hough, Queenstown’s KiwiHarvest Food Rescue Branch Lead, who, at the time, was recruiting volunteers in Queenstown CBD. With an 80-strong workforce at Crowne Plaza Queenstown, Stew didn’t hesitate to agree to an ongoing partnership with KiwiHarvest committing the hotel to take on the food rescue bike run every Wednesday morning.

“Since partnering with KiwiHarvest nine months ago I’m proud of the commitment from the entire team at Crowne Plaza. The enthusiasm has been incredible, and we’ve not missed a single Wednesday,” Stewart says.

All departments including Housekeeping, Front Office, Food & Beverage, Admin, Sales and Engineering are allocated a week to fill in a shared volunteer roster online. The activity requires planning and flexibility from everyone, whether participating in a volunteer shift or continuing the day-to-day mahi (work) at the hotel.

It’s a commitment Stew believes is 100% worthwhile, with training sessions planned each quarter to encourage new employees to participate.

“Not only is the partnership a way for Crowne Plaza to give back to community, but it’s invaluable for company culture and the health and wellbeing of individuals in the team,” he says.

Every month, Kiwi Harvest rescues 170,000 - 200,000kg of good quality food across New Zealand, reducing the negative impacts of food waste on the environment.  

KiwiHarvest volunteer rescuing unsold food from local cafe
Rescuing unsold food from Queenstown Signs

Gary Hough, Kiwi Harvest Branch lead Queenstown, says the partnership with Crowne is a brilliant example of win-win initiatives that are possible in the community.

“We’re delighted to have Crowne Plaza involved, as more hands onboard means more food rescued and more support for our recipient charities and the people they help in times of need. We hope all our volunteers feel the joy that comes from contributing to a major challenge in the community and seeing the results of one simple solution,” Gary says.

Finishing her bike run for the day, Katie says the fulfilment she gets from volunteering and giving back to community is ten-fold.

“Starting the day outside among the fresh mountain air and chatting with local café workers is a great experience in itself. But the real reward is arriving at Salvation Army, seeing the work they do to support our community and knowing you’re contributing,” she says.

Salvation Army Queenstown team receiving food donations from KiwiHarvest
Salvation Army Queenstown receiving rescued food

Local cafés setting aside unsold fresh food include Yonder, Vudu, Starbucks, Bespoke Café, The Exchange Café, The Bakery Queenstown, and Queenstown Signs.

KiwiHarvest’s food rescue bike run also runs on a Monday and Friday with Queenstown locals volunteering to support on those days. People in the region who are interested in volunteering to support KiwiHarvest with their food rescue efforts can sign up here.

Following the success of the partnership, KiwiHarvest is expanding the initiative to Frankton, with Holiday Inn Remarkables Park already interested in becoming a corporate partner.

Learn more about Kiwi Harvest on their website.

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