Mother and daughter helping out

by Lynnette Hurley

When Bellyful’s Selwyn Branch had their first meeting, trained chef Karen of Rolleston went along to see how she could help.

Karen came away from the meeting as cooking coordinator and later, when her 18 year old daughter, Hannah saw what her mother was doing, she jumped at the chance to volunteer as well.

Bellyful is a national not-for-profit organisation, which provides meals for families with newborn babies, and families with young children who are struggling with illness.

Answering an advertisement in a local paper, Karen helped set up the Selwyn branch back in September 2015. 

“Wendy Thompson was at the meeting and she ‘volunteered’ me to be cooking coordinator,” Karen said.

“I was a chef in the navy for five years, then a civilian chef for the army for 13, so I have the skills.”

Karen said she loves the role she has with Bellyful.

“I organise the meat and veggies then set up before everyone arrives. I make sure we are cooking the way we should.

I know the rules including those that are different from home cooking around hygiene and portion sizes.

“Now that my daughter has started volunteering, it’s very special.”

Hannah is enthusiastic about working with Bellyful.

“I care about the health and wellbeing of other people. I saw mum being part of Bellyful and when she asked if I wanted to join I was like, definitely.

“I’ve done cooking and some of the deliveries with mum. I make sure her job is easier.” Hannah has just finished school and is working part-time at New World before she starts her tertiary education, which will lead to a degree in social work. Both mother and daughter are focussed on what a difference a Bellyful meal can make.

“I’m a mum myself,” Karen said.

“It’s stressful with newborns and I didn’t have much support 20 years ago. Cooking is probably the last thing on the mind of a new mum or for someone with a sick family member, so if they can just pop a meal in the microwave it can take away some of the stress.”

It’s a busy and talented family. Alongside work and family Karen plays softball for the local mixed team and helps with their fundraising. Hannah loved the performing arts at school and she is going to keep playing violin and will soon be joining an orchestra.