Wednesday, July 17, 2024

What’s Cooking?

From chopping onions to carrots, doing the prep for lasagne and washing around 40 sauce bottles, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown was working hard as he rolled up his sleeves and helped at the Bellyful Cookathon on Monday morning at the Salvation Army East City kitchen.

Though the politician enjoys baking cakes and cookies whenever time permits, the Bellyful Cookathon was stickly about following instructions from the ladies doing the prep for meals to be delivered.

Bellyful East Auckland is a volunteer-powered charity that cooks and delivers free, yummy meals to whānau, with babies or young children, who need support.

Photos by Wayne Martin.

Established in 2013 and celebrating its 10th birthday this year, is the East Auckland branch, one of 25 branches nationwide.

Bellyful East Auckland has more than 40 volunteers who come together each month for a Cookathon where macaroni cheese, bolognese, lasagne, soup and curries are whipped up. These meals are then packaged and frozen ready for whānau who need them.

Referrals are received from Plunket nurses, midwives, community social workers, family and friends and the recipients themselves. Meals are then delivered by volunteers.

Bellyful is for anyone who does not have a ‘village’ or traditional support networks, offering a few meals to help them get through a tough patch.

These are often exhausted new parents, many who have no extended family locally, or who are going through a difficult time. The charity also helps many families where someone is unwell, or have babies in neonatal units.

The first branch, Bellyful Franklin, was formed in Pukekohe in 2009 by Jacqui Ritchie, who had a vision of women coming together to cook and distribute meals to mums who had new babies and lacked support.

Nationwide Bellyful has delivered more than 200,000 meals since 2009, with Bellyful East Auckland delivering more than 12,000 of these.

To refer someone, volunteer, donate or find out more visit

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