We freely redistribute quality, fresh surplus food from Wellington's eateries directly to those in need of it. Everyone is welcome.
The Free Store was founded in November 2010 after an art project inspired a group of friends. Kim Paton, an artist from out of town, set up a regular-looking shop stocked with food on the shelves. The peculiar difference being that customers could simply take the food for free. The art project came and went within a matter of weeks but a group of Wellingtonians had their brains buzzing. After discovering that some of the food in this shop was surplus food sourced from local cafes they asked, what if this could be a sustainable food supply?
“So long as the marginalised and vulnerable are problems to solve instead of friends to know, our community will remain divided.”
— Benjamin Johnson, FOUNDER
The Free Store first operated out of a surplus retail space on Wellington's iconic Cuba Street. Soon we were asked to move on. With zero money to lease an inner-city commercial space we had to get very creative. We set out to convert a rusty old 20-ft shipping container into a beautiful purpose-built store.
It is a travesty that people in our neighbourhood go hungry when there is perfectly edible food that is wasted. The Free Store ensures that our inner-city dwelling friends have access to quality food where cost isn't a barrier. No questions asked and no strings attached. Anyone is welcome to partake in the bounty. The Free Store is an inclusive space built on a foundation of mutual respect, generosity and friendship.
cafes, bakeries, restaurants and catering companies donating their surplus food each day
items of fresh quality food redistributed annually. That's over $2.6 million dollars worth of food!
customers each day from all walks of life including the homeless, unemployed, students and elderly
The Free Store is a grassroots volunteer-driven initiative. Our amazing team contribute a combine 9,500 volunteer hours every year! While it is a simple concept many hands are needed for smooth sailing each day. Volunteering is accessible, simple and flexible. You can choose when and how often you volunteer. And that might change week to week or month to month. That's fine by us!