Northland woman overwhelmed at response to free school lunch pack initiative

By Mikaela Collins

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Ani Tamaki was overwhelmed when 80 Northland families turned up to receive free school lunch packs being handed out for struggling whanau. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
Ani Tamaki was overwhelmed when 80 Northland families turned up to receive free school lunch packs being handed out for struggling whanau. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

Ani Tamaki was in tears as 80 Northland families turned up to receive school lunch packs being handed out in Whangarei for whanau in need.

Ms Tamaki, from Dargaville, has established Feed a Family Northland - a branch of an Auckland charitable trust created to help struggling families and the homeless.

Last night the Northland team set up outside the Whangarei i-Site Visitor Information Centre with about 85 free school lunch packs. When 80 families turned up for help - one with 9 children - she was moved to tears.

"It was awesome, it was very overwhelming. In that moment I was hoping people didn't come but when so many did it was good, but very sad," she said.

Tonight the Feed a Family Northland crew will be in Dargaville at 6.30pm, across from the BP on Victoria Street, with about 80 lunch packs and hot soup and homemade bread.

Ms Tamaki had originally planned to prepare 80 school lunch packs to give away last night. But the generosity of members of the public meant she ended up with about 85 packs to hand out on the day. She even delivered more packs on Sunday to a whanau who needed them for Monday.

"We also had about seven extra people turn out to help. They're so awesome," she said.

Ms Tamaki said the lunch packs contained egg and ham sandwiches, chips, water, baked muffins, chocolate cupcakes, bars, fresh fruit and fruit pottles.

"[The families] were so grateful, so positive. They were saying they needed lunch packs to get them through to their pay day. The kids were so funny, they were so excited," she said.

The mother-of-four said the amount of families who showed up to receive school lunch packs showed the community needed an initiative like this.

"It tells us we need to do more and that the community need this," she said.

Ms Tamaki said Feed a Family Northland will be in the same place in Whangarei every Monday and the same place in Dargaville on Tuesdays. She said the time they will be there may change, but she would be updating information on the Facebook page facebook.com/feedafamilynorthland

- Northern Advocate

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