Stepping up to the plate
Sarah Kerby knows how much difference a cooked meal can make for a mum with a newborn.
She is one of the women bringing Bellyful to Nelson, an organisation that provides meals for families with newborn babies and those with young children who are struggling with illness.
Kerby recalled coming home from hospital with her youngest child William, telling everyone they were fine, then suddenly it was chips for dinner.
She was thankful to live next door to her grandmother, but many people didn’t have that support.
‘‘Community is the most important thing with a baby, it’s that old cliche of taking a village to raise a child.’’
Kerby was breastfeeding in the early hours of the morning when she sent a message to the Bellyful website about establishing a branch in Nelson. She knew of the national charity as a friend was a volunteer at the Invercargill branch.
She said there was ‘‘absolutely’’ a need for the service.
Within 10 minutes of the Nelson Bellyful Facebook page going live, it had received a referral.
The group were in the early stages, fundraising for ingredients and hoped to get cooking in the coming months.
‘‘If you can make someone’s day by dropping three meals of macaroni cheese off, that’s a pretty awesome feeling.’’
Bellyful was founded by Pukekohe mum Jacqui Ritchie in 2009, after she had the idea of bringing women together to cook meals for mums in the community who lacked support.
Bellyful New Zealand quality and operations manager Wendy Thompson said each branch met about once a month for a ‘‘cookathon’’. The larger branches cooked between 60 and 300 meals in one go which were then frozen for distribution later on.
It received referrals from midwives, nurses, family members and friends and Thompson said people were able to self-refer. Meals were provided for families who had a newborn baby, up to about six months old, or if someone in the immediate family had a serious illness and they lacked a support network. Families were provided with meals for three nights.
Thompson said consistency was important, the same meals were cooked by each Bellyful branches across the country. The menu was designed to appeal to all ages and included macaroni cheese, beef bolognese sauce, beef lasagne and red lentil and tomato soup.
The charity relied on local fundraising to cover the cost of the meal ingredients and packaging. She said the Christchurch branch was sponsored by a hospitality business that purchased mince each month which was a significant help.
‘‘We would love some local business support.’’
For more information about Bellyful, visit www.bellyful.org.nz or email email@example.com