Hamilton News By Gary Farrow – 25 Oct, 2016 11:00 AM

Hamilton’s needy and underprivileged will soon receive more help, as the Society of St Vincent de Paul teams up with local McDonalds franchisees Debi and Mark Rush.

St Vinnies currently provides lunch programmes to 32 schools around the city, as well as running a night van that feeds 120 people five nights a week in Hamilton’s poorer suburbs.

Health nurses identify students who turn up to school without lunch or who have not been given breakfast, and call St Vinnies to drop off the required number of lunches daily.

By the end of this year, St Vincent de Paul will have delivered approximately 76,000 lunches to Hamilton schools. Working with Debi and Mark will allow the organisation, largely run by volunteers, to extend its operations further.

It linked up with Debi and Mark last December, providing aid through The Hits radio station’s toy run for underprivileged children.

Now the McDonalds franchisees will help St Vincent de Paul distribute lunches for the homeless and hungry.

“They’re going to give us spare buns and tomatoes and stuff that we can take out on our night van and we can give away to hungry families, and we’re just working on the best way to do that,” said St Vincent de Paul Waikato general manager Mike Rolton.

The parties are working out how the food will be distributed, to ensure fair servicing of all the suburbs considered to be in need.

Mr Rolton said the Rushes had also recently provided raffle tickets, which were sold at each of the organisation’s five shops, to a great public reception.

St Vincents used the takings from the ticket sales, and the Rushes provided prizes totaling around $150 per bag, said Mike.

“We’re just building our relationship and looking at ways to help the community, and I must say that they’re right behind working with us to do their bit for the community,” he said.

“In the last six or seven years we’ve really stepped up, lifted our game and made sure that we can do a lot more for the community because the demand is there.”

St Vincent de Paul has 230 volunteers, a handful of staff, and just started a literacy and numeracy school held on site every Tuesday, as well as help with budgeting.

In the next six months, it plans to launch a second night van, allowing it to engage with the community learning what is going on in lower socio-economic areas.

The Society has been helping Hamiltonians for almost 54 years.