Covid sees demand soar for Auckland soup kitchen

Source: 1News

Tuesday Night Community Kai is a volunteer-run group that cooks and supplies meals for Auckland’s homeless.

Volunteers preparing food for Tuesday Night Community Kai

By Hannah Filmer

Originally starting as a soup kitchen a year ago on Wellesley Street, 120-130 dinners are now served to visitors every Tuesday night.

Gracie Reily-Simmons, a volunteer, says this number has doubled since she joined at the start of the August lockdown.

“It’s surprising and quite sad to see the numbers have doubled from 60-70 people to 120-130 people. Up to 155 at times.”

‘Classic home-cooked Kiwi meals’ are served, which range from roasts to lasagne.

“It started as a soup kitchen, now we are serving meals, desserts and even juices and hot drinks afterwards.”

On how the food is funded, Reily-Simmons says they receive donations from the public and charities.

“We ask for a donation of food, money or time.

“Otherwise we have Bluebells and a couple of different butcheries that supply us with meat...or just people in Auckland themselves will donate cooked food to our community kitchen on Great North Road.”

The team meets there at 3pm every Tuesday to cook and prepare the food.

It is then transported to their Wellesley Street stall by 6 - 6.15pm.

The food is not the only thing on offer. The gathering of people provides a sense of belonging and social well-being for those whose support is low.

Meals at Tuesday Night Community Kai

“Sometimes we find our visitors hanging around for a little bit, wanting some leftovers and a little bit of that social time as well.

“I think with the vulnerable people they’re missing out on their social time during Covid… and all the other services they would usually receive.”

She wants to point out that the group is abiding by all Covid restrictions, and has an exemption notice.

“We have different rules about food service. We have to make sure we hand the food out and visitors don’t take it, we are socially distanced.”

Police have been called a couple of times.

“People don’t understand that we’re an essential service and think people are gathering for no reason," she says.

According to Reily-Simmons, vaccination buses often come to the stall and remind visitors they can get vaccinated for free.

“Most of our visitors are already double vaccinated but it is cool to see the support available.”

Reily-Simmons says “although we are all vulnerable during lockdown, I think knowing there are people out there struggling more...made me want to get involved.”

This act of kindness not only warms stomachs but also hearts, Aucklanders showing their compassion for those less fortunate in such difficult times.