Real Life

Mum’s mince mission

Rachel’s serving up pots of love for homeless Kiwis

It all started off as one small random act of kindness. Three years ago, mum Rachel Morris cooked a big pot of her mother’s famous savoury mince and dropped it off at the Auckland City Mission to help feed the homeless.

“I tried to do it at least once a month, but life gets in the way sometimes, you know?” says the busy filmmaker and actress. So Rachel put the call out to her Facebook friends to help – and before she knew it, Mum’s Mince was born. It’s now a 1500-strong group of charitable women who inspire one another to feed the hungry tummies of Auckland’s needy seven days a week.

A solo mother-of-two, Rachel, 37, says lives can be transformed through love and kindness, one meal at a time. “It’s a simple concept,” she explains. “It’s about making food with love, getting as many veges in the mix as possible and getting it to people who can benefit from it the most. “My thing is, you can’t make change if you’re starving. When you’re starving, all you are thinking about is where your next meal is coming from.”

And Rachel should know – having overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol, she’s living proof that change is possible. But she says it would not have been possible without the help and kindness of others.

Tearfully, she remembers losing her dad to suicide when she was just 14 years old. She’d had a happy, loving childhood, but the tragedy tipped her over the edge. She turned inwards and became “a lost girl”, with drugs and alcohol wreaking havoc on her young life for the next decade. But falling pregnant with her beloved son Cooper, now 11, transformed her. Rachel smiles, “I often say to him that he changed my life because had I not been pregnant, I don’t know that I would ever have changed.”

Yoga, meditation and an exploration of spirituality gave Rachel the building blocks to a better life. “It’s not about judging homeless people, drug addicts or anyone else because no-one knows another person’s back story,” explains Rachel. “Everyone deserves a second chance and everyone deserves a kind hand.”

Rachel believes the addictions that blighted her early years have helped her to empathise with the homeless and helpless.

Spread the love

Now attempting to pay back the kindness she was shown in her younger years, Rachel posts an empty cooking roster on the Mum’s Mince Facebook page at the end of every month and, within a few days, it’s always filled by volunteers.

“It’s crazy,” she laughs. “I never imagined people would respond to it so well. It just goes to show that a small idea and a small contribution can make a massive difference. Mum’s Mince started with one person making one pot of mince once a month. Now there are all these people cooking every day of the week, feeding hundreds!”

The hours spent creating a roster to coordinate an ever- growing number of volunteers takes a fair amount of time. Some evenings, Rachel is up past midnight to make sure the schedule works for everyone who has put their hands up to cook that month. But it’s all worth it.

“I don’t mind going to bed late because people are getting something that they wouldn’t if I didn’t do this,” she tells. All Rachel asks of her Mum’s Mince army is that their meals are made mindfully and with love. “It’s quite a ritual when I make food for the mission,” she smiles. “I take my shoes off, put my pounamu on and get into a real state of loving.

“I know that when people receive and taste the food, they’re going to get that love that I put into it.” Her scheme started with savoury mince, of course, but Rachel says as her volunteer group grows, there’s a fantastic array of meals coming in, from stews and casseroles, to pasta dishes and curries, and even slow-cooked delights like pulled pork. And while there’s plenty of support from families in the central Auckland area, there are also those making the drive in from the western and southern suburbs.

“It’s so amazing to see how many people have taken this concept into their homes and into their kitchens, to change people’s lives through food, kindness and love,” muses Rachel. “It’s the simple things in life which are sometimes the most powerful, after all.”

Single mum Rachel coordinates a team of more than 1500 home cooks, who prepare meals for visitors to the Auckland City Mission.

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