Helen is the Young Mums Program Co-ordinator at the Living and Learning Family Centre in Henderson and every week, she picks up fresh produce, meat, bread, milk, eggs and other goodies from Fair Food and brings it back for the Young Mums program.
It’s kai time so together, the mums prepare lunch, learn budget cooking recipes and tips, and then the rest of the fresh food is divided up between them to take home to their families.
“When the food arrives, we look at what we’ve received and then we think of recipes to make, or we might look at what we can afford to buy, to bulk out the food to last a week. It teaches cooking skills and budgeting skills” says Helen.
She pulls out recipe books with simple, tasty recipes they’ve collected over the decade including a few from the trusty Edmonds cookbook. Helen’s got hundreds of photos of the delicious meals they’ve made in the kitchen.
“Our mums come three days a week for 20 weeks. We have childcare facilities on-site so it means our mums can spend quality time for themselves”. An early childhood centre is at the heart of every Living and Learning Family Centre with education for both wāhine and tamariki to set them up for success. It’s a warm, welcoming environment, abuzz with conversation. HealthWest have just left as social workers arrive from E Tipu E Rea Whanau Services because the Young Mums program is also about connection; knowing who in the community they can reach out to when in need.
“I’ve kept in touch with so many of the mums who have completed the programme. I hold their stories in here” as Helen puts her palm on her chest. “It’s so rewarding to see them flourish. Some have gone on to study early childhood education which has led to employment within our Centre”.
Apart from a regular supply of fresh food, Helen would love a steady supply of nappies, toiletries and period products for all whanau at the Living and Learning Centre.
“Do you know anyone who can provide us with free period underwear? They are awesome! Sustainable, cost-effective because we need to educate our women on what’s out there. Traditional period products are expensive”.
With over twenty years experience in youth work, Helen still has the energy of a young’n herself! She’s passionate, bubbly, talks fast and oozes a love for her community.
“We’ve been receiving food from Fair Food since our program began and we remain so incredibly grateful. Fair Food is part of helping our women succeed”.