Feed­ing Porirua’s kids

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

There’s a hot trade in lun­cheon meat at Porirua’s Ole Foot­ball Academy.

Vol­un­teers ar­rive ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing armed with plas­tic wrap and packs of pro­cessed meat, ready to roll up their sleeves and make 1200 sand­wiches for hun­gry kids.

It takes un­der an hour to but­ter bread, spread it with sauce and slap on some lun­cheon, but it was a job that used to take Shar­iAnn Clif­ford two days.

‘‘I used to start at 7am on Satur­day and fin­ish on Sun­day night. It’s much eas­ier now.’’

Clif­ford is the founder of Kai for Kids, a group pro­vid­ing free lunches to Porirua pri­mary schools.

The mother-of-four came up with the idea af­ter find­ing her daugh­ter sneak­ing food out of the house to give to her friends who did not have lunches.

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

But 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.’’

‘‘Kids don’t come to school be­cause they don’t have any food to bring.’’

Two months later, Clif­ford and her vol­un­teers now make 1200 lunches for a dozen Porirua schools – Te Kura Maori O Porirua, Na­tone Park, Corinna, Rus­sell, Can­nons Creek, Glen­view, Porirua, Kura St, Ti­tahi Bay North, Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tists, Ngati Toa and Porirua East.

Five more schools are on the wait­ing list for help.

Un­til a few weeks ago the lunches were made on tres­tle ta­bles in Clif­ford’s Wai­tan­girua home. Now they have the free use of the din­ing room at the Ole Foot­ball Academy.

Kai for Kids has reg­is­tered for char­i­ta­ble sta­tus and Clif­ford hoped it could start ap­ply­ing for grants and fund­ing.

Un­til then, it re­lies on do­na­tions. Clif­ford’s fam­ily cov­ers much of the food bill them­selves.

Clif­ford said the feed­back she was re­ceiv­ing from schools was that the lunches were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to at­ten­dance.

De­spite that, she said she had also re­ceived crit­i­cism from peo­ple who be­lieved she should not be help­ing.

‘‘Peo­ple say that it’s the par­ents re­spon­si­bil­ity and I’m do­ing their job for them, but I don’t care,’’ she said.

‘‘Un­til I die, if there’s chil­dren to be fed I will feed them.’’

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said he had been in con­tact with Clif­ford and told her he would help Kai for Kids ac­cess fund­ing once the group re­ceived char­i­ta­ble sta­tus.

"There will be money for her,’’ he said. ‘‘There is a prob­lem in our com­mu­nity and our com­mu­nity should be help­ing."

BY THE NUMBERS

1200 school lunches 600 me­tres of plas­tic wrap 200 boxes of muesli bars and jelly 120 loaves of bread 100 dol­lars worth of lun­cheon 24 packs of plas­tic jelly cup con­tain­ers 12 boxes of zip-lock bags 6 tins of ei­ther tomato sauce or may­on­naise. 1 cater­ing-sized mar­garine

PHOTO: MONIQUE FORD

Sand­wich mak­ing vol­un­teers, from left, Nathan Bent­ley, Maisy Bent­ley, Mason Cel­li­her and Owen Parker-Price get into their work cre­at­ing 1200 lunches at Ole Foot­ball Academy on Sun­day.

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