Step­ping up to the plate

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - SAMANTHA GEE

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 nel­son@bel­ly­ful.org.nz

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