The Happy Puku looks after Tauranga's vulnerable and has delivered more than 3400 meals to those in need since the start of lockdown.
Families in transitional housing and vulnerable individuals had been provided with nutritious food and the much-needed gesture of connection over the last few months.
Established two years ago, The Happy Puku aimed to teach people who had experienced homelessness how to 'grow a kai, catch a kai and cook a kai'.
It provided opportunities for them to learn skills and enter employment through professional catering events. They also distributed meals to those in need.
The non-profit catering company was the social enterprise of Te Tuinga Whanau Support, a Tauranga Trust that provided a wide range services in the local community.
All funds from The Happy Puku's catering gigs and cooking classes go back to Te Tuinga Whanau, supporting the 176 families they look after.
Te Tuinga Whanau executive director Tommy Kapai said their "heart-led" team did a fantastic job of stepping up to the challenges of lockdown.
"We almost doubled our housing capacity to accommodate people affected by Covid-19, and we opened a second temporary youth home to help Youth Justice reshuffle young people on-remand."
He said it was "uncharted waters" for the trust and worked hard to keep the vulnerable warm and fed throughout lockdown.
Business was back to usual for now, dealing with all the winter worries this time of year brings.
He said they have been preparing to address the looming tidal wave of people they were expecting to knock on their door due to the economic effects of Covid-19.
"With the wage subsidy ending, we expect to see many become unemployed, and we will soon see the true impact."
During the lockdown, all The Happy Puku's weekly classes and catering events were cancelled, and income was cut.
Te Tuinga Whanau sought funding through the Rapid Response Fund, and more recently, the Western Bay of Plenty Covid-19 Recovery Fund to help them continue their work.
Kapai said they were grateful for the initial $10,000 received through the Rapid Response Fund, and the $27,000 received through the Recovery Fund.
It had allowed them to keep The Happy Puku team working, including two casual staff members who transitioned through their service, he said.
"We are so appreciative of the funding we have received – it is allowing us to not only keep people fed, but provide a powerful way to connect with whanau."