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CHANNEL FEATURE: Interview

Feeding Communities in Need

 Kerry Owen and Laurie Keung are a Shore duo running Feed the Need, a charitable trust set on fighting child hunger in New Zealand. The charity aims to improve the learning opportunities of Kiwi kids faced with hunger and poverty through providing nutritious meals to schools. Originally from the UK, Kerry has always been active in philanthropy and Laurie is the Chair of the organisation. Channel Magazine asked the ladies a few questions about the organisation and what it’s like feeding the community.

Courtney Bennett: How did Feed the Need start?
Kerry Owen:
Four and a half years ago I became aware that children were going to school without lunch in low decile schools, I wanted to help alleviate this issue. I set up an online lunch ordering system on the North Shore hoping to gain experience and knowledge of what systems and packaging would work best in schools. I also hoped it would financially help set up 'Feed the Need'. Then 18 months on I was in a position to start doing charitable 'food in schools' along with a growing team of volunteers. Laurie has been by my side working voluntarily and is the chair of Feed the Need. We now have an amazing Board who all are voluntary members.  They are all North Shore residents. 

CB: Can you tell us what Feed the Need does?
Laurie Keung:
Feed the Need provides hot, freshly cooked soups and casseroles to low decile schools, meaning that every child receives a lunch. We deliver three days a week during the winter months of the year. We chose the winter months as that's when sickness is rife and school attendance is at its lowest. 

CB: What does a typical day look like for you?
KO
: All members of the Board have different roles to play. Laurie and I make sure that the programme runs smoothly by communicating with the kitchen staff, our partners, suppliers and our schools we serve. A typical day is juggling our children and the charity demands. Between us we have nine children and one on the way. We have meetings, emails, phone calls and travelling to the Mt Wellington kitchen to ensure quality and a smooth service. Our kitchen team are at the kitchen from 7am until 1pm. We cook the food in large 'Bratt pans' and serve the meals in individual containers which are then boxed up and delivered to the schools. These are then distributed to each classroom and the children eat together. 

CB: What’s your favourite part about working for a charitable organisation?
LK:
It has to be seeing the difference we are making! 

CB: What do you like most about your local community?
KO:
The North Shore feels like a safe and friendly place to live. It has lovely beaches and parks on our doorstep, we are very privileged. We had heaps of local Shore volunteers for last year's programme. 

CB: Who are the people you admire most and why?
LK:
Those who are sacrificing their time to help others. 

CB: Anything you feel we could better as a community?
KO:
Maybe more fundraising events for those less fortunate.

CB: What do you do in your spare time?
KO:
What spare time? Catch up on washing, cleaning and trying to spend quality time with the family. We enjoy the outdoors, eating out/picnics and reading. 

CB: In my next life, I am going to come back as…
LK:
A bird.
www.feedtheneed.co.nz 

by Courtney Bennett

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