6000 Bellyful meals ... and counting
Ana Patelesio will do her damnedest to hide her special iced buns from her eight children, but it may be a lost cause.
Last week, the Cannons Creek mum took a delivery from volunteers at Bellyful Porirua, an organisation that makes precooked meals for new mums to help relieve some pressure in what is often a stressful time.
It has recently hit the 6000 meal mark and is still going strong
Patelesio has a six-week-old daughter, Menorah, and said the three family-sized meals of lasagne, soup, macaroni and cheese, as well as the pack of iced buns, came at the perfect time.
‘‘I’m so tired and to have this food makes everything so relaxing for me,’’ she said. ‘‘It means I can stay in bed longer – the meals are so easy to fix and my family really enjoys them.
‘‘We’re so grateful. Sometimes I hide them somewhere, put them in to heat and my kids say ‘Mum, I love your cooking’.’’
Bellyful began in Porirua in 2011. It was the third to kick off in New Zealand, and first outside Auckland. Today there are 18 operating around the country.
It was not a poverty-driven organisation, Bellyful Porirua coordinator Rebecca Morahan said.
‘‘We deliver to rich families and poor families, but often it’s for families who have been struggling with illness or don’t have a close support network,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s very rewarding to be doing it and it’s fantastic we’re still going strong.’’
Referrals are made through the Bellyful website or sometimes through Plunket or midwives.
Once a month, 25 volunteers from the Porirua basin get together at Sarah Searancke Catering in Linden and get cooking, making about 130 packs like the one delivered to the Patelesio family.
Figures show Bellyful Porirua continues to get more efficient – 1025 meals were made in 2012, but that rose to an impressive 1425 in 2015.
About 30 packs are given to families from Tawa to Pukerua Bay each month.
The food is covered by donations, fundraising and support from local businesses, including discounted meat from The Mad Butcher.
Kim Murray from Bellyful Porirua, with Ana Patelesio, who received her third Bellyful package last week.