Poverty at the door

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FALLON

A Porirua woman knows there is such a thing as a free lunch be­cause she makes 500 of them.

When Shari-ann Clif­ford dis­cov­ered her daugh­ter sneak­ing ex­tra food to school for her hun­gry friends, she thought there was a quick so­lu­tion.

‘‘I packed her some ex­tra lunches and thought that would be the end of it,’’ she said.

But the mother of four said it made her won­der if other chil­dren in the area were go­ing hun­gry. A quick call to a lo­cal school con­firmed her sus­pi­cions.

‘‘At­ten­dance is re­ally low on Mon­days and Tues­days be­cause Wed­nes­day is ben­e­fit day.’’

Clif­ford and her sis­ters of­fered free lunches through Face­book and were amazed at the re­sponse.

‘‘The first time we did it we had 500 peo­ple turn up on our doorstep for lunches.’’

Four weeks later Clif­ford is still re­fin­ing the op­er­a­tion.

‘‘We drop off bulk lunches to schools – Na­tone Park School got 113 last week.’’

Clif­ford’s hus­band, Ben­jamin, has been fund­ing the lunches out of his wages, which she said wasn’t sus­tain­able. She is reg­is­ter­ing Kai for Kids as a char­ity, and hopes that help at­tracts sup­port­ers to her cause.

One re­cent Satur­day, 60 loaves of bread, 12 roast­ing dishes of cake and 50 packs of multi pack chip­pies were used to make lunches.

‘‘One lit­tle boy was so ex­cited just to have a sand­wich. He couldn’t be­lieve it.’’

Peo­ple are in­vited to pick up lunches from her home on Sun­days and Clif­ford said it was heart­break­ing to see so many peo­ple in need.

She said it made her an­gry to hear peo­ple say there was no poverty in New Zealand.

‘‘There is poverty. Poverty knocks on my door.’’

Clif­ford said she didn’t care why peo­ple didn’t have lunches for their chil­dren.

‘‘It’s not my busi­ness. My busi­ness is to feed those kids.’’

She said many peo­ple were em­bar­rassed to ask for their free lunch and made their chil­dren knock on the door.

‘‘One mother cried be­cause she was so em­bar­rassed and grate­ful.’’

Ihipera Whakataka, act­ing prin­ci­pal at Wai­tan­girua’s Na­tone Park School, said the school was grate­ful to re­ceive lunches on Mon­day morn­ings.

‘‘Fam­i­lies can al­ways do with sup­port,’’ she said.

PHOTO: VIR­GINIA FALLON

Shari-ann Clif­ford Shari-ann Clif­ford and her daugh­ter, Ella-Ruth, are mak­ing free lunches for Porirua school­child­ren.

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