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Community kitchen gets boost

Wairarapa Community Kitchen has received a $2750 donation from Masterton district councillors. [From back left to right]: Lin Phillips, Stefan Brown, Marg Bulmer, Bev Jack, Serena Lynch, Cr Brent Gare, Denise Young, Maureen Taylor. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

Demand for food doubles

John Lazo-Ron

The Wairarapa Community Kitchen has received a much-needed $2750 boost after Masterton district councillors donated a year’s worth of their lunch money to the organisation last Friday.

The Wairarapa Community Kitchen is a community-led organisation that helps meet the community’s immediate need for food and security.

They work alongside Foodbank and Waiwaste Food Rescue, who provide them with surplus food. They then use the food for cooking meals, freeze and distribute it to the homeless, people living in emergency housing, or anyone going through a family crisis.

District councillor Brent Gare, who came up with the idea, turned up on ‘cooking day’ to present the money to the organisation.

Just as the covid-19 lockdown hit last year, Gare proposed that the $5 councillors contributed a week from their remuneration to cover food on meeting days should go to charity, a move that drew unanimous support.

Over the course of a year, the funds built up to a tidy sum and councillors agreed to donate the money to Wairarapa Community Kitchen.

Gare said the Wairarapa Community Kitchen, which has been running for three years, was a very appropriate place for the accumulated funds.

“It is a wonderful community operation that makes a real difference for people in need,” he said.

“That’s why councillors agreed the Wairarapa Community Kitchen was an ideal recipient of this donation.

“Doing this was a way councillors’ could help the community, but it was also a little bit of ‘we don’t need lunches’ and that’s continued on which I’m really happy with.

“It proves a small amount can make a big difference in people’s lives.”

Wairarapa Community Kitchen manager Bev Jack said she was overwhelmed with the generosity the councillors had shown, especially in a time when more people were in need of food.

“This was a wonderful and very timely donation,” she said.

“There has been a bigger need from people looking for food over the past six months.”

Jack said the community organisation, which has provided 2996 meals in the past six months, had 90 volunteers from across Wairarapa who came in to help once a week.

However, she said they have had to resort to two nights a week as demand for meals had doubled of late.

“Over the last six months we have found because of the increased demand of the food needed we’re now cooking twice a week,” she said.

“What we’ve distributed over the last six months was previously a year’s allocation.

“Financial issues with people in housing and the impact from covid has played a part as well.”

Jack said the organisation was now in need of a second 900mm stove to keep up with that increased demand.

“One of the things we’ve now identified is we’re in need of a second stove,” she said.

“Because of demand we’re cooking more each week, so we’ve become restricted as we can only cook so many things at a time and we have to wait until they’re cooked to put the next batch in.”

Gare said he hoped the councillors lunch money plan would continue further in the future.

“If this is one way that we can help a little bit then great,” he said.

“We sincerely hope this continues.”

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