Most of us would find the idea of cooking 65 meals a bit frightening but it’s a challenge that Beth Tua’i and her team regularly accept.

As local coordinator of Bellyful Dunedin, Beth our Volunteer of the Month regularly brings together five or six keen cooks to prepare and freeze up to 65 nutritious and delicious meals. These are then distributed to families with newborn babies and families with young children who are struggling with illness, particularly those lacking a good support network.

Bellyful began in Auckland about eight years ago and has grown since then to have 18 branches throughout New Zealand, almost entirely “staffed” by volunteers like Beth. Over those eight years, the volunteers have developed a range of standard meals which are easy to produce but which tick the taste and nutrition boxes important to young families.

For the last two and a half years, every time the store of meals in the freezer is getting low, Beth has coordinated the local volunteers, food supplies and use of the Dunedin City Baptist Church’s commercial standard kitchen. In the evening when their own families have been cooked and cared for, the team spends a few hours preparing and freezing the Bellyful meals. When these meals are needed, another team of volunteers delivers the free meals to the young families to enjoy.

Much of the food comes from supportive local companies like Vegeboys, Mosgiel New World, Green Island Fresh Choice and the team at Firebrand Marketing, but the local Bellyful branch is always appreciative of offers of help.

If anyone wants to know more about the work of Bellyful Dunedin, perhaps as a sponsor or as a young family who would appreciate their support, check out their website at www.bellyful.org.nz

Thanks again to Beth Tua’i, one of the thousands of volunteers making a difference in this city.