Pantries pop-up in Ashburton

TK Reuben-Paul with one of the three pataka kai (food pantries) set up around Ashburton.
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TK Reuben-Paul experienced the care and kindness of the community while going through a nine year drug addiction, now he and his family are returning that support to others.

TK is all about helping others and volunteers at Hakatere Marae. As well as running a holiday programme at the marae, he was the instigator of the Manaakitanga care packages and hot meals during last year’s covid surge inthe community.

‘We are one of the recipients of the foodbankdeliveries, after we had made up the food packages we had of surplus of bread and other food . I was inspired to create the Pataka Kai (food pantry) having seen one in Porirua many years ago,’’ TK said.

Following the success of the first pantry on Creek Road, he has now established one on Chalmers Avenue, and Archibald Street. A bigger pantry has already been made by his friends for the Creek Road site.

People are being very generous in supporting with the donation of goods for the pantries. ‘‘I am really amazed by all that is given. One lady has been given sponsorship for flour and makes six loaves of bread for us,’’ TK said.

As well as bread, milk and other staples you can find pet food supplies, fruit and veges, non perishables and TK said ‘‘I hope people might put some hygiene supplies in the pantries too.’’

TK hopes local grocery shops, Countdown, New World, bakeries may look to donate stock near its used by date or surplus. Any business wanting to donate can contact him or along with the public just drop the goods off to one of the pantries.

Anyone who needs supplies can freely help themselves being mindful that others too may need some of the stock. There is no criteria to be meet to get food, ‘‘if people need something they can just help themselves,’’ TK said.

There are some sad cases of people in need in our community, people facing health issues, TK said.

‘‘It’s a great feeling to be able to give to others, just as others have given to me in my time of need. Making a difference for people is really emotional.’’

‘‘Having turned my life around, I want to help people. I’m leaving a legacy for my children and teaching them about doing for others.’’

The pantries in Ashburton have been around for less than two months but TK is already looking to expand further including out into more rural areas if he can get others on board.

There has been a very positive reaction from the community both those making the donations and those able to get a hand up when times are tough.