Dancing with the Stars runner-up Dave ‘Buttabean’ Letele launches new ‘buy a gift one’ food box service

Fresh Media’s Mark Nelson and Buttabean Motivation’s Dave Letele have teamed up to launch their own buy-in-one food box. Photo / Provided

There’s a new player in the growing food bag market – but it’s promising to donate a box to a family in need with every box sold.

Supported by Dancing with the Stars finalist and Kiwibank Hero of the Year Dave “Buttabean” Letele, the Fresh First food box is launched in time for Matariki.

Used food boxes will be available on long weekends, holidays and special occasions such as Father’s Day and Christmas.

“The boxes are filled with food that these families usually couldn’t afford, so it’s a way for them to celebrate and come together on special occasions like Matariki,” Letele said.

“It’s a flash food box, filled with treats and we’ll be distributing them through our network to people in need.”

Letele was at the heart of dance lessons when he met Fresh First founder Mark Nelson, and the couple agreed to work together to give back.

David Letele and Kristie Williams came third in Dancing with the Stars.  Photo / Provided
David Letele and Kristie Williams came third in Dancing with the Stars. Photo / Provided

“I always want to work with companies that want to give back so we can get food to people in need without all the bureaucracy that gets in our way,” Letele said.

“It was perfect because it gives me a way to fund what we are already doing here with our share of BBM food and it also gives back to our families in need.”

The launch will see 500 boxes of food available for purchase and another 500 delivered to families in need across Auckland.

The boxes cost $179 but contain more than $220 worth of food to feed a family of four for five days.

Nelson, whose company Fresh Media combines his experience in food, business and media, said he was honored to work with Letele.

“I had thought about doing a food box for a while, but we wanted to make one that promotes our great brands and gives back.

“I want to increase my contribution and what we can give back to the community as the business grows.”

Buttabean Motivation's Dave Letele hopes the new Fresh First food boxes will help fund his already established food sharing system in Auckland.  Photo / Provided
Buttabean Motivation’s Dave Letele hopes the new Fresh First food boxes will help fund his already established food sharing system in Auckland. Photo / Provided

Nelson said the fact Letele already ran a successful food bank in a purpose-built facility in South Auckland made him the obvious choice.

Letele and his BBM team have already delivered thousands of food parcels to families in need since Covid hit. Letele was a New Zealand Herald “Lockdown Hero” in 2020 for his work in the community.

Nelson said Letele was the obvious choice when looking for someone to work with.

“I know Dave does amazing things and I thought he would be the best person to get boxes to people who need them.”

The Fresh First food boxes will be occasion-focused initially, but the pair are also working on a regular low-cost food box.

“We know that these special occasions like Matariki and other celebrations really hit people when they can’t afford to buy food to share with family,” Nelson said.

“We’re starting with the boxes to buy a gift for special times, but we’re also working on a low-cost food box that offers something different.”

Rather than recipe cards, the food boxes come with fun video clips that they hope will get the whole family involved.

Letele said, “We will be shooting videos on how to prepare these meals because we know that right now there is a lot of knowledge that is not being passed on, so hopefully that will change that.

“It’s a way to get families to connect, cook together and share knowledge.”

The Matariki food boxes are in addition to the 300 food boxes Letele already provides each week to the community in need.

“We have our families who need help every week, and then we also help the general public,” Letele said.

Dave Letele has worked with Auckland Police throughout the pandemic to get food parcels to those in need.  Photo / Provided
Dave Letele has worked with Auckland Police throughout the pandemic to get food parcels to those in need. Photo / Provided

Letele receives help from the Department of Social Development and has strong relationships with delivery service Sherpa, New World, Countdown, Pak’nSave and Tegel, but said ‘it’s still hectic’.

“We hope this new partnership will help make what we do at BBM more sustainable.”

There are 500 boxes of Fresh First food available to order. They will be delivered to customers on Thursday, June 23, before Matariki’s first vacation. On the same day, 500 food boxes will be delivered and distributed through the Buttabean Motivation Food Bank.

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