Every fortnight a group of dedicated Otago University students get together to roll up their sleeves and make hearty meals for Presbyterian Support Otago Family Works’ foodbank clients.

The medical students have formed a group they have named Choose Kids, which aims to help children who fall below the poverty line. As part of Choose Kids, they cook and freeze hot meals for the Dunedin’s largest foodbank which supports around 300 families a month with meals and basic items they can use to make low-cost meals and school lunches.

Student Briar Hunter said group members believed every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, something that couldn’t be done on empty stomachs.

“Making soup and other meals that can be easily re-heated is one thing we can do, at a personal level, to help vulnerable children and their families,” Briar said.

“It gives us quite a buzz to get together, pool recipes, seek donations of fresh produce, and create nourishing meals we know will be appreciated.”

Dunedin North Intermediate provides free use of its commercial kitchen, and generous local businesses have supported the initiative with donations.

Lisa Wells of Presbyterian Support Otago said around 30 new families came to the foodbank each week and most of food was donated from a very generous Dunedin community. “Having the students make meals is a real treat,” she said.

“Our social workers work alongside each family for budget advice, advocacy and a myriad of other support services. In mid winter we can give out around 9000 items ranging from soap and toilet paper to rice, breakfast cereals, tinned food,” added Lisa.

Presbyterian Support is one of The Tindall Foundation’s Faith Funding Managers. It distributes donations on our behalf to Presbyterian organisations and initiatives throughout Otago. This funding comes under our Supporting Families and Social Services programme area.