Farmer filling Waimate food banks with protein

A dairy farmer who has donated more than 5,000 mince meals to food banks is urging other farmers to think about supporting their local communities through The Big Feed live rural telethon.  

John and wife Cara Gregan milk 650 cows under the Hunter Hills near Waimate and have donated a large number of cattle beasts to charity Meat the Need. 

Gregan recently spent the day at Oamaru Churches Food Bank as part of The Big Feed, seeing first hand the difference his donations are making in his local community. 

“These food banks are a lifeline for people who are suffering from food poverty.” 

“It was definitely a reality check, you tend to live in your own little world a bit and it was eye opening to see just how important giving really is.” 

The Oamaru Churches Food Bank supplies food parcels to around 27 families every Friday and at the moment, is running relatively low on food. 

“They really appreciate the meat that comes in, they can’t get it from anywhere else and it’s too expensive to buy in so as a farmer, it's great to be able to donate that. For a country that feeds 50 million people it would be a real shame if we couldn’t feed our own,” he says. 

Gregan first got involved with Meat the Need in 2020 and also came on board as a “Champion”, raising awareness of the charity. 

He liked the model of the charity and the fact that 100% of what farmers donate is provided directly to food banks and community organisations in the form of mince and milk meals. 

“It makes sense, in a country that's feeding 40 to 50 million people that we should be able to feed our own as well, especially those who need it most and the majority of farmers up and down the country would agree with that,” he says. 

Donating produce is easy, he says, as you just pledge how much you want to give and Meat the Need and Silver Fern Farms take care of all the admin.  

“It's not too difficult to donate your meat or milk and you won’t really miss it. It’s giving our communities and food banks a product that they need and want, that’s really high in protein.” 

“They’re products that we’re proud of and we’re providing communities that need them, and we should be really proud to be able to do that too,” he says. 

John also raised around $12,000 for the charity by hosting a fundraising Golf Day in Waimate earlier this year with the funds going towards mince and milk meals for the Waimate food bank. 

He rang around local businesses to gather support and help sponsor the event, putting money behind holes and an auction - which also included auctioning himself off for free labour. 

“Our bank manager bought us and made us go and tail lambs so it wasn’t all that bad,” he laughed. 

“As a farmer, it's amazing the number of people in the business community that you cross paths with who were all keen to get on board and support. It was such a good way to raise awareness of Meat the Need and get the name out there in the community.” 

The Big Feed live rural telethon kicks off on Thursday December 14th for 14 hours from 6am, hosted by Matt Chisholm, Wayne Langford and Dave Letele. 

Donations of livestock, milk, virtual animals or funds can be made online at as part of The Big Feed now. 

Donations can also be made by texting “feed” to 3493 to automatically give $3 now, or by calling 0800 632 884 on the day. 

The Big Feed will be streaming live on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and at


Cara and John Gregan have helped to fill Waimate food banks with mince meals through their generous donations