Monday, 18 January 2021


Business community backs new local charity with over $5,000 in sponsorship

A recently established local charity which aims to ensure families with young children always have the benefit of a hot meal during times of stress or upheaval has been overwhelmed by the generous support of the Mercury Bay business community.

Three sponsors have collectively committed over $5,000 worth of product to help Bellyful Whitianga extend a helping hand to even more people through the simple gesture of a homecooked dinner.

Since first starting to prepare and deliver meals in March, Bellyful has organised three cookathons, producing over 300 meals which are then dropped off to people with young children who, for various reasons, may find cooking dinner difficult.

“It could be because someone is unwell, there may be a person in the family in hospital or it could be because there is a new baby in the house,” says co-founder Emily Pavey. She says typically a delivery will contain a three night supply of dinners and the service is in no way liked to people’s income. “It’s available for everyone, there is no criteria, it could be as simple as being in bed with the flu.”

A particular focus is people who may not have family support nearby and therefore no-one to bring them a hot meal if they are having a bad week for whatever reason.

Emily says the first batch of meals were sent out within a week. Referrals were coming from neighbours and friends while the local midwives were also being proactive about ensuring new mums could receive the meals if they wished. With all fundraising taking place through locally organised events, Emily says having three major sponsors step up to support the charity has vastly increased the number of families Bellyful can now reach.

“Dairy products - butter, cheese and milk - have been sponsored by Coromilk. This saves us approximately $1,440 a year. Our meat will be sponsored by Mercury Bay Marine saving us approximately $2,275 a year and our pasta sauces will now be sponsored by The French Fig saving us approximately $1,440 a year. We never imagined we'd see such overwhelming generosity, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic, we are just so grateful.”

Emily said the support from the wider community and the commitment by the team of now 25 volunteers was also key to Bellyful’s success. “We launched a two week appeal in June, seeking donations of pasta and pasta sauce. Locals were invited to buy one extra when they visited the supermarket and drop their donations off at one of five collection points. Our wonderful community donated over 93kg of food. This will save us a small fortune when it comes to our cookathons and food deliveries, so we’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this initiative.”

The charity plans to hold a cookathon every month. The most recent took place over the first weekend of July with sponsorship from the Whitianga Masonic Lodge. A total of 104 meals were prepared and then frozen, ready for distribution as requests come in over the coming weeks.

The first cookathon was sponsored by The Informer and the second by the Lioness Club of Mercury Bay.

While Emily says they have a good supply of chefs, they would love to hear from volunteers who can help deliver meals within the community. All the information on getting involved, donating or referring someone to receive meals is available at

Pictured: Erin Coats, the owner of Fagans Furniture Beds and Homeware in Whitianga with Bellyful Whitianga co-founder Fran Jack’s daughter, Sophie, at some of the pasta and pasta sauce recently donated to the charity. Fagans was one of the collection points where the donations could be dropped off.


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