Bellyful Gem in Geraldine – At the Heart of Bellyful

In the South Island town of Geraldine, Wendy Patrick and the team not only cook Bellyful meals, they also cater events to raise money to buy the ingredients to make the Bellyful meals. “It’s a good fundraiser,” says Wendy.

In February last year Wendy led a small team of Bellyful volunteers to cater for the Lions Convention that was held in Geraldine.

“I like being organised,” says Wendy. “We have six or seven of us and I delegate the jobs. We make two courses, usually hot ham, cold chicken and three or four salads, and I make rolled pavlovas for dessert. But our next catering job is in winter so we may do apple shortcake. We try to use local ingredients so we use Barker’s ingredients in the pavs.”

“We’ve had quite a few catering jobs. We do all the prep in the Geraldine High School Kitchen and serve the dinner in the school hall,” says Wendy. “In June we will be doing a dinner for 100 for the Lions Club change over of their committee.”

Bellyful volunteers will understand what a big job this is as they know how much prep goes into a large cook. In a small town keeping it local is also important to the organisations involved.

“We charge $30 per head and take our expenses out of that. The organisations we cater for know that money is going back into our community,” says Wendy.

“We also do bake sales and sausage sizzles up the main street. We need to be seen.

“Community awareness of Bellyful is building and this month we had to do a double cookathon to meet demand. We did 140-150 meals and used 20 kilos of mince!”

“Geraldine is a small community and a lot of people know each other. We get referrals via health professionals and Kendra who is on our committee is a midwife so she sees all the mums and babies. Word of mouth is huge for us. Sometimes you can see that someone is struggling or we hear that a mum may need something. Recently I realised that a local mum had two other children and had just had a baby that was premature. When I told her about the meals she said, ‘Oh I would just love it.’ She was just ever so grateful. Everyone hears of someone who could do with a little help,” says Wendy.

Wendy has been volunteering with Bellyful Geraldine since it started but it’s not just us that she helps. She has been on the Plunket committee for 34 years and she currently cares for her grandson so her daughter can return to work. She also helps her husband at home and they have cows and sheep to look after.

“Everything is pretty busy, but I like being busy. I enjoy what I do and we’ve got a good group who want to work to help people in the community.” says Wendy.

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