Feeding Porirua’s kids
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
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.