Bellyful celebrates 10 years of feeding hearts and tummies
Ten years ago, Pukekohe mum Jacqui Richie set up Bellyful, a charity which provides free meals for families who have newborn babies, sick children, or otherwise are doing it tough.
Bellyful volunteers deliver meals to families with newborn babies, and families with young children who are struggling with illness, particularly those lacking a good support network. Jacqui herself needed this practical support as a young Mum, and stepped in to fill what she saw as a gap in her local community.
Over the past decade Bellyful has provided over 120,000 free meals to 22,000 families, in 23 communities around the country.
Bellyful ambassador and TV presenter and journalist Pippa Wetzell, pictured above, is a long-time supporter of the organisation and says it is a practical, heart-warming and necessary service for new parents.
"I joined Bellyful in 2011, not long after the birth of my third child. I had three kids under five so fully understood the demands on parents with young babies. I was very fortunate to have a lot of support but despite that it was hard going; I realised that it must be incredibly difficult for people who were doing it without that support. Receiving a meal by itself is a lovely treat, but Bellyful is about so much more than that. It’s about supporting a family, helping them feel like they’re not alone – sometimes the simple gesture of providing a meal can be enough to turn around a challenging day."
Bellyful volunteers prepare meals in commercial or community kitchens during monthly Cookathons. The meals are frozen ready for distribution to recipients who are referred by health professionals such as midwives, Plunket nurses and social workers, as well as friends and family.
Jenny was a Bellyful recipient eight years ago, when her second child was born almost 12 weeks premature.
“Although life was a blur, looking back one thing that stands out to me are the home cooked meals delivered by Bellyful volunteers. I would get home exhausted but I had dinner and baking waiting for me which the Bellyful team had prepared. Honestly, it was a God-send. Not only was it practical as it kept us well-nourished without the stress of meal prep, the sense of community I felt from this support was immense.”
Bellyful Chief Executive, Charlotte Delahunty says Bellyful’s network volunteer group has grown from 400 to 650 in the past two-and-a-half years. “Bellyful really helps promote community connectedness and more and more people are getting involved. We’ve focused on providing volunteers with more training, better communication and support and this has enabled Bellyful to grow enormously to be able to reach more need in our local communities.”