He may have gone viral for the noodle challenge but away from the internet fame, Robb Nai and his Kai Now Facebook group are changing Kiwi lives for the better.

Last year group owner Nai started the New Zealand eating page Kai Now, but not as a way to promote food, instead - as a way to help people fight the black dog of depression.

Nai told the Herald what started as a project to help those with low self-esteem feel valued, has turned into an exercise of helping those in need and feeding the homeless.

"I know a lot of people turn to food through depression. So I tried to bring people on board to create a community where they feel like they can belong," he explained.

Advertisement

"I've had people that have been bullied and couldn't interact with others, people who feel low about themselves have messaged me saying thanks for making me feel like they're valued."

What started as a group of a few thousand soon escalated into a full-scale community of 66,000 members.

Nai and Kai Now's community was now large enough for the Auckland man to start making Kai Now merchandise, selling hundreds of items of clothing.

But Nai soon had members reaching out for help and highlighting the struggles many Kiwis face every day.

With a growing number of people struggling to buy food and more living on the street, Nai decided to use money made from selling merchandise as a way to feed those in need.

"The money I get out of selling merchandise goes to feeding the homeless.

"We often go down to Hobson St in Auckland with hot and cold food. I have cakes, hot cakes, doughnuts and other types of meals. We go down and help them out.

"It's all because of the members buying merchandise that we can do this and give back. Without them what we do isn't possible. I'm so blessed we have a community of people from all backgrounds that are here grow as people or help those who are struggling."

Robb Nai and the Kai Now team deliver food to those in need. Photo / Supplied
Robb Nai and the Kai Now team deliver food to those in need. Photo / Supplied

Members of the group go live on Facebook to share their food experiences, promote recipes, or just to talk to others as a way of interacting with like-minded people.

With a lot of members struggling with body issues and self-confidence, hundreds use the platform as a way to expand their social circle from the comfort of their own home.

Nai says he's had two people come to him saying they're suicidal, but thanks to the group they now feel part of a group and no longer believe they're social outcasts.

"We've had two members that have come to me saying they're suicidal. One was bullied because of his appearance but he started going live on Facebook with videos of his cooking and his confidence slowly built.

"I made him moderator and gave him power as a way to make him feel good about himself. Now he's a regular contributor and feels worthy and part of a team."

Dont let depression feed you. Let you feed you with happiness 😎 #ChinUp☝️

Posted by Robb Nai on Wednesday, 16 January 2019

While Nai is grateful for the praise he receives, he says none of what the group has achieved would be possible without the heart of his admin team and friends.

"Oh man, nothing would be possible without Maria Blanchette and the amazing admins and moderators who keep the page clean of bullying.

"We're blessed to have so many people who want to make a difference in people's lives, no matter how big or small.

"Hopefully people will keep spreading the love and help continue to give to those in need."

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.