Our hungry kids: Angels breakfast charity began at home

By Corrie Taylor

What you can do

Sponsor a hungry child for 50c a day.
(to help provide the basics they're missing out on.)
kidscan.org.nz

Donate to Salvation Army food banks.
salvationarmy.org.nz

Donate to Auckland City Mission winter appeal.
(you can text help to 305 to instantly donate $3.)
aucklandcitymission.org.nz

Use your business or community group to feed hungry kids in your local school or community.

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Takanini mother of five Bronca Fox feeds children from local schools. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Takanini mother of five Bronca Fox feeds children from local schools. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Takanini mother of five Bronca Fox started feeding hungry children from a local caravan park who came to her door a decade ago. Today, her charity feeds 250 children at five local schools.

"I'm opposite the street where the caravan park is and I guess because I had little children and they attracted other children, they started coming in," she said.

"I think I was making my child a sandwich and I had these tiny kids - one was just 2 - looking straight at me, and I said, 'Are you hungry?'

"For quite a few years I had little kids coming in and I'd feed them."

Ten years ago this October, Mrs Fox and her sister went to the local Takanini School to suggest starting a breakfast club. Principal Linda Kelly, who had arrived a few months earlier, had already noticed that some children were coming to school hungry.

"I identified it after three or four months," she said.

"When I came here we had kids off the wall, stealing food."

Mrs Fox and her sister began providing breakfasts in a programme they called "Angels Light", which they now run through the Papakura Christian Services Trust. The programme started in an empty classroom.

"We had nothing, we were washing dishes in big containers," she said. "When we were moved into the hall, we felt like kings."

Gradually other local schools asked to join in and Angels Light now feeds children at Cosgrove and Edmund Hillary primary schools, an intermediate, Mansell Senior School, and, since late last year, Papakura High School.

"I guess I'd never thought of high schools," Mrs Fox said.

"It wasn't till the high school contacted me and stressed the different issues they were having and I thought, why not - they come from the same homes and have been through the same things."

She has been horrified by the stories children have told her.

"The biggest problems I see are gambling, alcohol, drugs and violence," she said. "It should traumatise children, but they are just living it day in and day out.

"I think it's getting worse. Prices are going up all the time. I guess there's so many problems and a lot of these people are just so downtrodden that sometimes it's hard to explain."

Angels Light gives every child at least one Weet-Bix, so they get fibre and milk. It also supplies wheatmeal toast and a big pot of hot cocoa.

Mrs Kelly believes it makes a huge difference to the children.

"Now they are settled and ready to start the day, it's just amazing."

The programme costs $40,000 a year for food and equipment, including commercial dishwashers to maintain hygiene standards.

Most of the money comes from philanthropic trusts but Mrs Fox refuses to take money from gambling trusts.

She said the biggest problem was the lack of volunteers.

"We would like to do the breakfasts five days a week, but a lack of volunteers often means some mornings do not go ahead," she said.

"We need at least five people each morning, but that depends on the size of the school. We would love more volunteers."

ON THE WEB

www.pcst.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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