Children at Merivale School will be treated to a free healthy lunch three times a week thanks to a woman in the community with a giving spirit.
Gate Pa's Garrath Stoddart heard about Te Puke woman Tracey Wallace-Hutchins taking an extra packed lunch box to her child's school, Fairhaven Primary, for children who arrived at school without lunch, and decided it was a project she could take on board in Tauranga.
I don't think there's anything worse than being hungry
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Merivale School came instantly to her mind as somewhere that could use the help.
"I don't think there's anything worse than being hungry. I've never starved in my life, but there's a young man who lives near me, I give him meals every so often. I've been doing it off and on for people over the years."
These school holidays, Mrs Stoddart used her own money to buy some supplies and cooked stew, which she supplied to the Merivale Community Centre for its clients. She did this out of her own pocket.
"I'm not a millionaire or anything of the sort, but every little bit does help."
Mrs Stoddart approached local businesses with her idea and two local supermarkets, Countdown Tauranga and Fraser Cove, jumped on board, each providing $50 for Mrs Stoddart to buy food.
Other businesses were also considering getting involved, she said.
"I'm happy with how everyone has responded."
Mrs Stoddart wanted to cook healthy, filling meals. One planned menu included buying whole chickens on sale, roasting them, adding the chicken to a pasta sauce and throwing in an assortment of steamed vegetables - onions, carrots, celery, broccoli and potato.
"It's healthy, it tastes good, it's quick. I pre-prepare the vegetables, cook them and put them into plastic bags, stick them in my spare fridge, then when I'm going to make a meal for the children, I bring them out and add the fresh green vegetables."
To cook all the food, Mrs Stoddart bought six large stockpots, which were paid for by a friend. She will use three at a time to cook the food, then drop them off at the school and keep the other three to prepare the next meal.
Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti was excited when she heard Mrs Stoddart's offer.
"That made my whole day. It will mean a lot to the kids. Just having that hot meal is just incredible, it means everything to them and it will help them so much with their learning."