Doing the mahi to make a difference, with no expectation of recognition or reward, Linda Lake has been giving back to the Foxton community for over five years.
It all started around 2015/2016 when Lake joined a "pay it forward" group called #unityinourcommunityhorowhenua which was helping out those who were struggling in the local area.
Over the next couple of years, Lake noticed a common theme with a lot of the requests for help through the community page was food shortage.
"I'd connected with Just Zilch [a food rescue free store] in Palmerston North through the pay it forward group and in 2018, the organisers suggested I set up my own [free food store] in Foxton," said Lake.
Lake would use her social media networks to reach out to the community, "... I'd stop on Pioneer Highway and post on social media to meet at a certain time and place with the foodie items ... let them know what I've got available ... what time I'd be there."
She then started a food rescue distribution from her home – picking up food that would otherwise have gone to waste from local businesses - to distribute to those in need.
By 2019, the initiative had evolved into Te Awahou Kai, and is now based in Whyte St, opposite New World Foxton, open 4.30pm-5.30pm on Monday and Thursday.
Lake is still the co-ordinator, Melissa Paterson is her right-hand woman, and they have a support crew of about 15 volunteers.
"The volunteers are all local, come from all walks of life, and all ages – ranging from my seven-year-old son through to helpers in their 80s," Lake said.
As the co-ordinator, Lake organises the fundraising, volunteers, food rescue and distribution.
Her food sources network includes a hugely supportive Foxton community and food producers, as well as producers and businesses from the Manawatū, Hawke's Bay, and Wellington.
During 2020's lockdown Lake, who has compromised health, made up food parcels at home and arranged contactless pickup through various community Facebook groups.
This year an essential services letter was secured by Lake and Paterson so Te Awahou Kai could continue to operate out of its Whyte St premises during lockdown.
"Over this past lockdown, we were giving out over 1200 kilos each time we opened," said Lake.
For the past few years, Lake and her team have also run a Christmas hampers initiative with local support services, gifting a little extra to those in need in the community.
"We run raffles to raise funds to fill the hampers, as well as sourcing Christmas stock from our store," said Lake. "In 2019 we gave out 27 baskets, last year it was 70, so demand is growing."
One of the most important things to note about Te Awahou Kai is there are no criteria for sourcing the food parcels, "anyone can be struggling ... you can't judge circumstances on how people dress or what they drive," said Lake.
If you can help or want to know more about this amazing community initiative, check out https://www.facebook.com/teawahoukai/ or contact Linda Lake on firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 221 3561.
Financial donations to help with operational costs such as rent, power and fuel are also welcome through the following account: 02-0727-0543305-034