St Stephen’s Church member and coordinator of its fruit and vege stall on Tahunanui Drive, Matt Gray. Photo: Andrew Board.

Mission to feed for less

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A tiny fruit and vegetable stall on Tahuna Drive is having a big impact, selling healthy food for bargain prices, often below the price they paid for it.

The stall is run by the St Stephen’s Church and operates from the church’s front yard. It’s been running for almost two years and its coordinator, Matt Gray, says it’s all about providing cheap, healthy options for Tahuna families.

“This is the church’s gift to the community. It’s about getting good food at an affordable price in the community. That’s why we do it.”

The idea started when Matt recognised a gap in Tahuna for families to buy produce. With no supermarkets or places to buy vegetables he started a stall that ran once a week. It soon proved so popular the church decided to run it five days a week and they’ve been doing that for almost two years now.

Matt says they do mark up their prices but only enough to cover costs and to pay him a small wage. All of the helpers are volunteers, as is most of Matt’s time.

“There are no profits. We’ve been lucky that we’ve had a couple of growers who are also men of faith who have sold us produce at a very low rate.”

He says they do it for those families in Tahuna, but the stall has also become popular with people driving home from work, and Matt says that’s a side benefit. “We’re a Tahuna church so we’re here for our community first and foremost, but if others get to get some cheap veges as well then, why not? The more sold the better.”

He says it hasn’t been easy with poor weather and some slow weeks making life tough, but watching families walk out with bags full of fresh and nutritious food makes it worthwhile.