Filling bellies on the Coast

Kelly Paddison with Sophie, 4 and Aiden, 2.

A service that provides free meals for families who are going through tough times is starting up on the Hibiscus Coast and its branch coordinator suspects that there will be plenty of demand.

Kelly Paddison of Hatfields Beach has been working with the North Shore branch of Bellyful for around a year and is branch coordinator for the fledgling Bellyful Hibiscus Coast.

She has two young children and runs a Plunket coffee group; she discovered Bellyful while looking for resources for local families to tap into.

The organisation is a not-for-profit charitable trust. Its volunteers cook and deliver free meals to families with newborns, and families with young children where there is serious illness in the immediate family. Referrals come from health professionals, community organisations or friends and family. Last year 3900 families were referred to Bellyful for help and a total of 17,800 meals were delivered by around 400 volunteers.

The Hibiscus Coast group will be the 20th, and the most northern – reaching as far as Puhoi.

Batches of macaroni and cheese, lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese are cooked by volunteers at regular Cookathons in non-domestic kitchens such as in marae, schools or churches. These are frozen and distributed by delivery volunteers.

Initial recruitment of volunteers for various roles has gone well but more are needed.

Some initial funding has been secured but Kelly says that between now and November, when she hopes the first Hibiscus Coast Cookathon will take place, around $1000 needs to be raised, and kitchens and freezer/storage locations found. She says sponsorship would also be welcome – such as a local supermarket that can offer the group a good deal on ingredients.

Kelly says the need for this kind of help has grown as families move away from their support networks. She says volunteers get a lot of ‘warm fuzzies’ in supplying such a welcome service.

“A few meals can be a sanity saver if you have small children or babies and you’re going through a rough patch. Sure, you can get takeaways but a friendly person who comes to your door with free meals is especially welcome because it shows someone cares.”

Info: www.bellyful.org.nz, email kelly.paddison@bellyful.org.nz or look for Bellyful Hibiscus Coast on Facebook.


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