Bellyful is all about supporting whānau when they need it most – at dinner time! We have been filling bellies since 2009. Bellyful nourishes and connects communities by cooking and delivering meals to whānau with babies or young children, who need support. We have delivered more than 180,000 meals to 34,000 whānau.
Our charity has grown to 25 branches, from Hibiscus Coast to Invercargill, with local teams who cook and deliver frozen meals in their communities. Volunteers are at the heart of Bellyful. We have more than 500 volunteers who give countless hours and love to keep filling bellies across Aotearoa.
I joined Bellyful after moving to Franklin in 2013. I wanted to meet people in our community but had also thought about volunteering for ages. Nothing really seemed to fit before I found Bellyful.
I met a Bellyful volunteer, who told me about what they do. The concept of help at dinnertime instantly resonated. Even though my kids weren’t babies anymore, I remembered the challenges of having a new baby, being unsure, feeling alone and wondering why I was struggling when everyone else seemed to have it all together. I thought how wonderful would it be, to have someone turn up at your door with a couple of nights’ dinners? Especially when you have a new baby, who typically seem to need attention during the late afternoon “witching hour.”
I started cooking with the Bellyful Franklin team in 2014; the meals were simple, the team and banter fantastic. I was welcomed into the group and didn’t look back.
Now, as the Branch Coordinator for Bellyful Franklin, I see first-hand the impact of friendly (behind a mask!) face, arriving with meals. I have had mums in tears on the doorstep when I have delivered dinner for a few nights. Such a simple act of kindness can have a massive impact. Often, these meals are enough to help someone over a tough patch. We help whānau feel like they are not alone, like they are cared for by their community and that someone understands.
Our support is not based on financial need but is more about making people feel cared for and connected to their communities. This is important in the modern reality where parents don’t always have a ‘village’ to support them. Raising young children can be isolating at the best of times, something which has been exacerbated by Covid-19.
Bellyful has helped me grow personally. I’ve been able to make a small, but consistent difference in my community and it is really rewarding. But it has also provided me with other opportunities, in areas like leadership, promotion, fundraising, volunteer management, supply chain management, food safety, health and safety, and many more.
In the nearly eight years since I joined Bellyful, I have led Cook-a-thons, fundraisers, and now manage our branch – all as a volunteer. I also now work in the “for purpose” world, providing funding and operational support to other charities. These are skills I was able to grow and develop with myself, through my volunteer work with Bellyful.
I am consistently amazed and empowered by my local team and the mahi aroha of our volunteers throughout New Zealand. In Bellyful, many hands make not only full bellies, but full hearts too.
Sally is Bellyful NZ’s Grants Administrator, and also leads Bellyful Franklin in a volunteer role as Branch Coordinator.