Auckland woman creates community food pantry for families in need

Many people 'think' about giving back to the community, but one Auckland woman has made it her mission.

Anne Overton helps feed and support locals in Mt Roskill after the pandemic saw the number of people struggling skyrocket.

Every day, the Pātaka Kai, or food pantry, in Mt Roskill is topped up.

The purpose is simple - take what you want - and give what you can.

"People are just struggling on so many different levels, and it's like, how do you help them, so they can start to make better decisions in their life?" Presbyterian Support Northern community relations manager Anne Overton said. 

Overton is the brains behind this kaupapa.

Her small team of four - along with countless volunteers - create food parcels for the Mt Roskill community.

Some of it comes from donations and some of it from the backyard garden.

"There's a lot of people that ask for kai that have never asked for kai before. It's people that have worked 40 hours a week that have lost their jobs," CFC Coordinator Grace Mua said.

They also work with a range of agencies; like police, Kāinga Ora and Shine, to provide help for those who need it.

On top of that, they drop off kai to schools and kindergartens every week.

The aim on these trips is to "find the invisible families".

"They don't put their hands up, they're too embarrassed to say I need help," Overton said. 

They hope to develop this site and evolve its purpose.

"How can we find you a job? Or help with your family? Do you need support services? It's creating a conversation with them so they're not just coming for food" Mua said.

It's a vision that's still a work in progress.

"We're responsible for that commercial kitchen, so if anyone's got deep pockets, we'd love some funding help," Overton said. 

In the meantime, a new community garden is being built. It's been designed specifically with disability and vision impairment in mind.

Mua said it will be available for everyone to use.

"It's those stories of building relationships, making someone have a sense of belonging and creating a community."

A by the community, for the community approach.

Helping eliminate barriers and give back - one family at a time.