An inspirational new model for feeding people in need through a centralised community food initiative is on its way for Roskill South (Puketāpapa).
The model, called the Communities Feeding Communities Initiative (CFCI), is being established at the former St Giles Presbyterian Church site at 1207 Dominion Rd. Work is well underway with old buildings already demolished, vegetable garden beds laid and a pātaka kai (community food pantry or storehouse) installed. There is also a large chalkboard at the front of the site to help with two-way communication with the community.
In addition, the new Initiative will have fruit trees, urban gardens, and allotments for those living in apartments or homes without access to the space needed to grow fresh food. The site will also have a small basketball court, an interactive, sensory children’s play area, and a picnic area for people to spend time and connect.
The Initiative has been developed by social services provider Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN) in conjunction with Northern Presbytery, Saint Kentigern Girls & Boys Schools, other local schools, major food producers and growers, and the local community.
PSN Community Relationship Manager Anne Overton says the new model shakes up the traditional food bank system by working with the local community to discover ways to achieve food security.
“During the first Level 4 Lockdown in 2020, many families and individuals had to rely on food parcels from support agencies. This provided short-term relief for a couple of days, but for many families, it was the first time they had to ask for help.
“We realised that new pathways needed to be created that led to food security for these families and a more empowering way found for communities to access food with dignity that was also more sustainable.
“Emergency food parcels will still be available for local residents and a small number of agencies, but the Initiative’s focus will be on growing food and helping people to achieve food security,” says Overton.
“Community meetings will be held on-site and a commercial kitchen will go into Victoria Hall which will be relocated onto the site later this year.
“Long-term, other social support will be offered. Through the food Initiative, we hope to cut dependency on food parcels. If people are able to feed themselves with affordable, nourishing food, then they will be better able to make sound decisions and achieve their goals. We will eventually be a resource centre to help them on their journeys. As we get to know people, we will get to learn more about their backgrounds and their skills and be in a position to support them to upskill or to find work or start their own small business. Nurturing and giving people a sense of belonging is key to the success of the initiative.
“Furthermore, pastoral care and support will be available through Minister Fa’amanū Starsky Akeripa who will be based on-site to offer spiritual guidance for those who seek it or just be a friendly face to talk to,” she says.
“We want to do whatever is best for the local Puketāpapa community and for locals to have a sense of belonging to the Initiative.
Northern Presbytery Executive Officer Dr. Rod Watts says Presbytery fully supported this as a great use of its former church site.
“We are excited about partnering with PSN to create a new food or kai space and a place where the whole community could come and enjoy spending time. As well as practical support, it will also be great to have Minister Fa’amanū Starsky Akeripa on site to offer spiritual counsel.”
Fa’amanū Starsky Akeripa and community co-ordinator Grace Mua will be based at the CFCI to strengthen the relationship with the local community. The aim is to be there when the local community needs support or wants to volunteer or give back to their local community.
To contact the CFC initiative, phone 021 229 0355 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org