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