Bellyful meals a boost for mums
By Yana O'Gorman yana@thepost.nz
Bellyful Franklin provide hundreds of meals to families each month. Families with newborns, or those struggling with an illness.  That number has been increasing rapidly as Franklin continues to grow.
For recipients of the meals, it's often a well-timed sanity-saver. Vanessa Southey and her young family, have been on the receiving end of the meals and say the once a week dinners have been incredible.
The mum of five, who has four young children at home, received meals after each of her four children were born. She says the service Bellyful provides is extremely helpful.
"When you're sleep-deprived from the stresses of having a new baby, you know there's food for your kids."
She says the food is also a hit with the kids. "They love the meals, especially the macaroni and cheese."
The simple dinners, which include lasagne, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti bolognese are pre-cooked and can be eaten when it suits the family.
"It helps you not to worry, it's quick, and you stress less," Vanessa said.
"The meals are handy when energy runs out. Sometimes you can make it on your own for a few weeks, but then those energy reserves get low, and you need to ask for help."
She says all new mums should ask for help if they need it. "Don't be afraid."
Suzanne Kiely, recipient coordinator for Bellyful, agrees. "We provide meals for people across the district from stay at home mums, to working mums. It doesn't matter what you have, or don't have, we're here to help."
Bellyful are looking for more volunteers who would distribute the meals, particularly in Waiuku, an area that is seeing a lot of growth. Those interested can phone 0508BELLYFUL (0508 2355938) or go to the website www.bellyful.org.nz. 
They are also launching their donate-a-thon where the community can donate selected food items, or supermarket vouchers to allow more families to be supported. Bellyful are looking for Diamond lasagne sheets and macaroni, Dolmio classic tomato past sauces and Raguletto classic tomato bolognese pasta sauce, which can be donated at the Pukekohe Library.
"People are so grateful to receive the meals, it's quite humbling," Suzanne says. "I believe in paying it forward, and this is one way I can do that." 
Caption: Suzanne Kiely, three-month old Chy Waititi and Vanessa Southey.