Ani Tamaki says while one school lunch might not seem like much, it can mean a lot for those who are struggling to afford food for their family.
The Dargaville woman was moved to tears by the sheer number of families who turned up to the i-Site Visitor Information Centre in Whangarei where about 85 free school lunches were handed out to families in need.
The free lunch pack initiative was organised by a group established by Ms Tamaki, Feed a Family Northland, which is a branch of an Auckland charitable trust created to help struggling families and the homeless.
On Monday night the Northland team set up outside the information centre with the lunch packs ready.
But when 80 families - a few large families and one with nine children - turned up, Ms Tamaki said she was moved to tears knowing so many people were struggling.
"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.
Last night Feed a Family Whangarei also visited Dargaville where it was expected to hand out school lunch packs' hot bread and soup for families.
Ms Tamaki had originally planned to prepare 80 packs to give away in Whangarei on Monday. But the generosity of members of the public meant she ended up with about 85 packs to hand out. 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.
Ms Tamaki said the number who showed up to receive the 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 - opposite the BP in Victoria St - on Tuesdays.
She said the time volunteers will be there may change, but she would be updating information on the Facebook page facebook.com/feedafamilynorthland.
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