Charity aims to help families

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Bellyful in business . . . Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers cuts the cake at the launch of Bellyful Waimakariri at Rangiora Borough School. PHOTO: SHELLEY TOPP

By SHELLEY TOPP

A new branch of Bellyful, a non-profit organisation that provides free meals to families with newborns or struggling with illness, has been established in Rangiora.

The Bellyful Waimakariri launch was held in the Rangiora Borough School’s commercial kitchen last Sunday after the branch’s first cooking effort.

Branch co-ordinator Kate Cobb said volunteers prepared meals at a monthly cooking session.

The meals are then frozen, ready for delivery to recipients when required.

Frozen meals sufficient to feed a family for three nights are delivered by the Bellyful volunteers.

Bellyful is a national charitable organisation founded by Jacqui Ritchie in South Auckland in 2009.

New Zealand now has 20 Bellyful branches run by volunteers and a paid part-time chief executive.

Last year, 19,400 meals were delivered to 3442 families by 520 volunteers.

Funding is provided by the branch communities.

The branches work from Bellyful recipes with specific ingredients, so do not require food donations.

Bellyful’s quality and operations manager, Wendy Thompson, of Christchurch, says referrals for the service come from midwives, Plunket, support groups such as Mothers Supporting Mothers, and families. Self-referrals are also accepted, she says.

“We are not judgmental. Our only criteria is there needs to be a new baby or some serious illness, including post natal depression, in the family and no support,” she explains.

“Our meals are made with love and delivered with love. We err on the side of yes.”

She said they were grateful to local businesses Z Energy (Jefkar group), Rangiora New World and Rangiora Borough School for their support, plus Continental Caterers for baking the cake and Artisan Bakery for doing the specialist icing for the branch opening.

The Bellyful Waimakariri branch was opened by Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers who said it was a welcome initiative in the Waimakariri community.

The opening was also attended by the Rangiora Borough School principal Alan Sutton.

He said he was pleased to allow the volunteers to use the school’s kitchen for their monthly cooking sessions.

The school would also fundraise for the branch by holding a mufti day, he said.

Anyone wanting to volunteer at Bellyful Waimakariri should email Kate at: kate.cobb@Bellyful.org.nz or go to the Bellyful website for more information at bellyful.org.nz. Donations can be made at givealittle.co.nz/cause/bellyfulwaimakariri