Bellyful brings support to new Coast parents

Ready to fill bellies are Bellyful Hibiscus Coast volunteers, from left, Zoe Forbes, Jennie Burrowes, Kelly Paddison (branch coordinator) and Kirsten Southgate.

The first batch of meals destined for local families with newborn babies were cooked this week at Bellyful Hibiscus Coast’s first Cookathon at Stoney Homestead in Millwater.

Bellyful is a not-for-profit charitable trust that provides free meals cooked by volunteers to families with babies under three months old, or those with young children who may be finding things tough through illness in the family.

Referrals come from health professionals, community organisations or friends and family. Nationally, 3900 families were referred to Bellyful for help and 17,800 meals were delivered by around 400 volunteers, last year.

The Hibiscus Coast branch, coordinated by Kelly Paddison, is the 20th and most northern in New Zealand, reaching as far as Puhoi.

The group had its official launch this week, on November 27 – this featured a combined cooking session and cake cutting ceremony, and was attended by volunteers, Kelly, Bellyful NZ chief executive Charlotte Delahunty and quality and operations manager Wendy Thompson.

Kelly says that many of the Coast volunteers, including several who stepped forward after seeing the story in Hibiscus Matters’ September 6 paper, were previous recipients of the service.

Jennie Burrowes, of Red Beach, says that is why she wanted to help. “I had a newborn and no family support, as they all live in the South Island,” she says. “My husband works full-time and starts early in the morning. My baby was unwell and had a couple of operations, which made it very difficult for him to feed. I was exhausted and this was my first baby, so I didn’t know what to expect. When someone from Bellyful knocked on my door with a meal I burst into tears.”

Help is always needed with a new baby and Kelly says Bellyful has grown as families move away from traditional support networks.

“We can’t wait to start delivering the meals out into the community to the families who need them,” Kelly says. “Having a baby or dealing with illness when you have young children is hard work and it’s those families who might not have a support network bringing them meals who we really want to help. When you’re having a rough time, something as simple as not having to worry about getting dinner sorted can be a big deal.”

To make the local branch happen, funds were raised over the last few months through cake stalls, a sausage sizzle and cash donations including more than $500 from the Hibiscus Coast Community House, which came from the proceeds of their Op Shop in Orewa.

The group is hoping for sponsorship from local businesses, as well as welcoming donations through the Bellyful Hibiscus Coast Facebook or Givealittle pages.

The meals of macaroni cheese, lasagne and spaghetti bolognese will be prepared at regular cookathons, frozen and then delivered by volunteers.

Referrals can be made at bellyful.org.nz or phone 0508 Bellyful.


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