The Fat Brother has food to share

The Fat Brother Tauranga’s Don and Harry Grewal with parents Johnny and Pal Kaur Grewal. Photo: John Borren.

A Tauranga restaurant dishing out free meals on Mondays was saddened to hear one family hadn’t eaten since Saturday.

Last month the burger, sandwich and shake joint, The Fat Brother, started their community initiative – serving free meals on Mondays from 5pm-7pm to those in our community who need extra support.

The Fat Brother Tauranga owner Don Grewal says the idea to offer free dinners sprung after seeing calls of help online.

“I was looking on Facebook and I noticed a lot of people were posting asking for free food.

"They were literally posting that they don’t have food to get by until the next day or so, and asking if anyone can donate food and stuff like that,” says Don.

‘The reality’ 

This set the free community meals in motion, with Don saying they gave out about 200 meals across their Tauranga, Rotorua and Hamilton restaurants on their first Monday of giving on January 15.

Dr Karandeep Lall and Mandip Lall own the Rotorua store.

“As part of being under our umbrella they also decided to be a part of the free meals for the people in need,” says Don.

 “A lot of people turned up…we had some people that came in and they actually hadn’t eaten since Saturday – and it was a whole family of them.

"It’s sad. The reality is everything is just so expensive,” says Don.

“Rents have gone up through the roof.

"That’s the biggest cost of any household at the moment, and if rent goes up by $200 a week, who’s going to come up with that extra $200?

“The reason we do [the meal] on Mondays is because it’s a couple days before the payday – so usually that’s when people are struggling.”

Don says The Fat Brother is doing what it can to help.

“It’s not easy because businesses are struggling at the moment as well but I’d rather get some meals out there so people aren’t sleeping hungry.”

All welcome 

Don says anyone can come in for a free meal.

“It’s open to everyone.

"It’s not just for people that can’t afford a meal.

'It could be that you are kind of sacrificing your family time or something like that, for that meal.”

This is why the Fat Brother has made the meal dine-in.

“We’re not displaying it as ‘you’re here for a free meal’.

"There’s other customers coming in at the same time to buy food…that way the kids don’t need to know, and the kids can feel like that they went to eat at a restaurant and have the experience.”

Don says all of my staff are happy to volunteer their efforts for the free meal.

“Our chefs cook the meals while they’re at work, whenever it’s quiet…all of my team is working very hard and they love that we are actually doing this.

“If we can get people supporting this however they can that would be appreciated, so we can provide more for the people that need it.

"Nothing’s too big or small.”

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