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Free food service marks fifth year

Posted at 4:18pm Tuesday 15 Jun, 2021

Love Soup Hibiscus Coast, the food rescue charity, has come a long way since it began offering free meals at Whangaparāoa Hall five years ago, on June 18.

That free meal every Sunday continues to attract around 60 diners each week.

Love Soup also works with local churches, and the result has been the monthly free lunches at St John's church in Ōrewa, which began in 2018. This month, on Sunday, June 27, a monthly free dinner at St Chad's church in Ōrewa will also be launched.

During lockdown last year, Love Soup began providing food parcels to struggling local households and this has continued – around 100 of these each week are going out.

Lockdown also highlighted the need for another local foodbank, Love Soup director Julie King says. The Love Soup foodbank, which has continued to operate from Whangaparāoa Hall since lockdown, is not means tested and enables people to access staple foods by messaging Love Soup's Facebook page or through its website.

A free school lunch service is also underway, and growing, with around 500 lunches a week being distributed to local college and Primary School students, as well as the HBC Youth Centre. It started as the initiative of Whangaparāoa College student and Love Soup youth ambassador Xavier Mika. Julie says Love Soup is meeting with Ōrewa College to discuss potentially offering the lunches there.

Rescued food is used for the lunches. Julie says the way the scheme is operating is a pilot, designed to ensure no food is wasted.

“It's targeted at a certain number of students, and we work with each school to ensure the numbers are right,” Julie says.

She says while Love Soup's services and volunteer numbers have grown enormously over the years, one thing hasn't changed – the need for more sponsors. Currently Love Soup rescues food from all the local supermarkets – with Pak ‘n' Save Silverdale coming on board just last month. But additional sponsors are needed to fund food items that they are short of for the meals or foodbank – things such as non-perishable (tinned) food.

“We have to work with whatever we are given, and there is plenty of it, which is amazing,” Julie says. “But we really need a business partner so we have money to fill the gaps.”

Looking back at five years of food rescue work, Julie says she feels proud of what has been achieved so far.

“The community is making this happen and it's beautiful to see it grow like this.”

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