Free feed takes off through word of mouth

Last updated 08:34 05/12/2013
Food for Families
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
COMMUNITY SUPPORT: The Food for Families Nelson group in the Victory Community Centre kitchen, Pepe Reading, left, co-ordinator Martin Reading and Sita Reading.

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The number of people attending a free community dinner in Nelson has swelled as word about it spreads.

Motueka Valley resident Martin Reading and his wife Pepe have set up Food for Families.

The not-for-profit group relies on donations of food and volunteers to serve a healthy vegetarian dinner on Friday night at the Victory Community Centre.

Martin says about 45 people have been attending each Friday since the middle of November.

He says about 25 were attending a week before The Leader wrote a story about the group.

The volunteer-run group uses donated fruit, vegetables and other raw ingredients to cook and serve a nutritious vegetarian dinner on Friday night at the Victory Community Centre.

The dinner is open to everyone. It is free but there is a box for donations.

Martin says donations of food and fresh produce had also increased since publicity about the initiative and one man donated a lot of silver beet from his garden.

He says the feedback from people attending the dinner was great, and you could hear them saying the food was "yum" as they started eating it.

He was especially impressed that the children were hoeing down the vegetarian dinner and lining up for more.

"We have had nothing but positive feedback from the people attending and positive feedback from the centre."

Martin says the group is still keen for further donations of food and if people want to give donations of cash they are always useful.

There were some items like butter that he had to buy. He had been able to cover those purchases with money from the donation tin - but things were a bit tight.

He had recently set up donation boxes including one at the Night Owl dairy in Nelson, and was also possibly putting one in Bin Inn.

Martin says that because numbers attending the group have grown it also needs a large pot and a large baking dish.

He says the project had an eight-week trial with the Victory Community Centre, but is now a permanent fixture.

It will continue over summer, and be closed for only the first week in January.

He has plans to grow the organisation and would like to start offering lunches or start a permanent community kitchen.

He says the community can support it in different ways, and he has been able to hand out some donated food to families.

Martin says he approached growers and businesses for donations of food.

Four families, most of whom were business owners, are also involved with either cooking the dinner or contributing raw ingredients.

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He says there is a wide range of circumstances that force ordinary people to suffer financially which results in them eating a poor diet.

"There may be a breakdown in the family structure resulting in divorce, loss of employment, or loss of physical or mental health."

  • If you would like to support the project, donate food or volunteer Martin can be contacted on 021 051 5664 or theloft108@hotmail.com. Food For Families donations can be made to its Westpac account: 03 0751 0438468 000 or via the donate button on its facebook page.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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