Spare lunches made for those who go without
Most weekday mornings for the past two years, mother-of-two Sarah Bailey has made lunch for hungry children at Masterton Intermediate School.
The registered nurse launched her labour of love after son Daniel Marsh, then a pupil at the school, began sharing so much of his lunch with famished classmates that he was going without.
"He had a lot of kids asking if they could have his lunch and he was dishing out his own and not having much for himself. He told me about it, so I thought 'okay I'll just pack more lunch', and see how that goes. But it kept continuing," she said.
"So I thought I'd make a couple of spare lunches and drop them at the school, and told Daniel if they asked again just to tell them there was food at the office," she said.
"I called in the next day to see how it went and whether there was a need, and was told the lunches had gone within 10 minutes.
"One mother had sent her boy to school without lunch because they couldn't afford anything that day, I was told, and that happened to be the first day I'd made the spare lunches. It just took off from there."
Ms Bailey, a former MIS student herself, would in a heartbeat work full-time helping to feed schoolchildren who were enduring classes with an empty belly, she said.
But for now she is content spending $10 each school day on lunch ingredients "which is about as much as we can afford to do", she said, and time in the mornings preparing a half-dozen lunches.
Except when she is too tired after night shift and her mum, Helen Bailey, takes on the task and helps with ingredients herself.
"Sometimes I drop off ingredients, like bread, and sometimes she supplies that herself.
"She feels just as pleased to be able to donate to the kids who're hungry and just do something for the community and help families in need.
"We make enough to feed six children and that's all we can afford right now.
"I'm sure there's more children that need it, and I'd love to do it throughout all the schools here and see all the hungry kids fed, but I just don't know how to fund that.
"I just wish this could be my full-time job and that I was able to supply breakfast and lunch to all the schools in Masterton."
Ms Bailey said inexpensive bread "which we eat" is used for the donated lunches, which could include cheese and pineapple sandwiches, salad and ham buns, club sandwiches, homemade scones and chelsea buns among a nutritious range of food.
"I've made Friday a treat day and there could be something like chelsea buns, yoghurt and chocolate milk. I make sure there's always something different so they don't get bored, and there's always a piece of fruit."
Ms Bailey had sought donations of fruit from ENZA, formerly the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, but was told the agency was already supplying fruit to schools through an existing scheme.
"So we're just carrying on doing what we're doing, and as long we can do it financially and I'm well, why not?"
MIS principal Russell Thompson said the generosity shown by Sarah, Helen and Daniel was exemplary and astonishing, especially since Ms Bailey's son was now at Makoura College.
"Most parents would be up in arms about their kid getting hit up for their lunch all the time but Sarah started making extra lunches instead, and kept doing it for two years, even though her son has moved on. Sandwiches, muffins, fruit, drinks; and the lunches always go to kids that need it. She really is awesome."
Ms Bailey will continue supplying the lunches and says her real reward is hearing about the successes of some of the children she is helping to feed.