McDonalds joins forces with St Vinnies to feed city's poor

By Danielle Nicholson

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Mark and Debi Rush at St Vincent de Paul's soup kitchen in Frankton where they and 10 of their crew served lunch.  Photo / Danielle Nicholson
Mark and Debi Rush at St Vincent de Paul's soup kitchen in Frankton where they and 10 of their crew served lunch. Photo / Danielle Nicholson

The 60 hungry mouths waiting outside St Vincent de Paul in Frankton today were expecting their usual hot lunch. Instead, they were greeted by McDonalds Greenwood St staff who served up burgers, fries and Happy Meals.

Having met with St Vincent de Paul Waikato general manager Mike Rolton, McDonalds franchisees Mark and Debi Rush decided they wanted to get behind the organisation.

"We met Mike when we were part of The Hits Toy Run last year and then, about a month ago when we were looking to support a charitable organisation we decided to talk with Mike. Vinnies helps families that aren't well off, who need help and we want to help them help those people," said Debi.

"We talked about the initiatives St Vinnies do. First up was the soup kitchen so that was a no brainer for us."

The first lunch the couple are supporting is a trial.

"Based on how it goes we will look to do that quarterly or bi-monthly."

Mark and Debi asked their crew if anyone would like to volunteer to cook and serve lunch to the crowd at St Vinnies. Ten of them jumped at the chance and worked in their own time to prepare, transport and dish up the 120 burgers, 60 servings of fries and 12 Happy Meals.

Mark and Debi used to own the Auckland CBD McDonalds franchise where they supported families living at Ronald McDonald House.

"We'd take food up there and families would be lined up," said Debi.

"Like that, this is just a nice treat for people... something to take their minds of the situations they're in."

St Vincent de Paul serve a hot lunch to about 60 people every Thursday and Friday. Mike Rolton said they'd had to add the Thursday serving to cater for increased demand.

But the lunches aren't all the Rush family are looking to contribute to St Vincent de Paul.

Debi said they would be gifting vouchers to St Vincent de Paul for 1000 Big Macs and 1500 Happy Meals.

"That will get them through 2016 and 2017 - they can hand them out to people they feel are deserving.

"We will also be looking at what raw produce we can donate to supplement the food bags that Vinnies distributes. We have to be careful in terms of food safety so I think we'll be safe with eggs, tomatoes and buns. We're still working through that."

They are also looking to support St Vincent de Paul's van that visits the city's poorer suburbs every weeknight, doling out sandwiches, milk, Milo, fruit cordial, muesli bars and fruit.

"We want to give people a treat and put a smile on their face. We want to get away from the perception that [McDonalds] is a greedy American company," said Debi.

She said the couple give back a percentage of what they earn back to the community in the form of a raft of sponsorships.

- Hamilton News

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