‘I will never forget the help they gave us’
Five weeks after giving birth to her second son, Julie Park felt like her world was caving in.
Her newborn, Thomas had to undergo life-saving surgery in March after a simple cold turned into complicated pneumonia.
She also had to worry about her 1-year-old son Matthew who was at home with his dad, and how they would get through without any decent home-cooked meals.
Park, 41, struggled to keep things together. That’s when Bellyful West Auckland came to her rescue.
Bellyful is charity organisation that provides meals to families with newborn babies and families with young children dealing with serious illnesses.
People can nominate themselves for a meal, or nominate other friends or family. Bellyful also gets referrals from health professionals like Plunket and midwives.
Park nominated herself after Thomas was born and was delivered three meals, no questions asked.
‘‘They dropped around the meals and even checked up on us to see how we were getting on,’’ Park said. ‘‘I will never forget the help they gave us, at a very difficult and stressful time.’’
Bellyful West Auckland, one of 18 branches of Bellyful NZ, was established in 2011. In 2016, Bellyful West Auckland delivered nearly 1000 meals to about 300 west Auckland families. This year, it has cooked nearly 500 meals and delivered 380 meals to 126 families.
‘‘Mealtimes can be tough,’’ Bellyful West branch co-ordinator Claire Burney said.
‘‘It’s about supporting families through difficult times like having illness or juggling a newborns needs, regardless of their financial situation.’’
She said they have had new migrants reach out to them, women suffering from post-natal depression or coping with multiple births or premature babies.
Other times it’s been families with young children who have been struck with a sudden tragedy. Bellyful West holds a ‘cook-a-thon’ every six weeks at the Te Atatu Bible Chapel. Volunteers cook at least 120 meals of lasagne, macaroni and cheese, bolognaise and tomato and red lentil soup. They are packed and stored in fridges in New Lynn and Te Atatu until a request for delivery was received.
Hailey Howlett, left, and Claire Wescott-Jones pack the meals for storage in fridges at New Lynn and Te Atatu.