Last week, we chatted with a few of our Onehunga diners to find out what they enjoy about the Everybody Eats experience.

Ruth and Lorraine, both in their 70’s, arrive at the restaurant alone and are matched at the door. “I think this place is amazing” said Ruth. “I come for the company…if you’re on your own you get matched with someone”, which has provided her with many welcome opportunities to meet new people. You could be forgiven for thinking that Ruth and Lorraine are old friends, but they’ve only just met. They’re seated next to Janine’s family and are clearly enjoying the spirited chatter of the youngsters.

It’s Lorraine first visit to the restaurant, despite living down the road. “I’ve been by myself since the early 80’s” she said, before revealing that she’d recently lost her sister to cancer. This created a whole new sense of aloneness for Lorraine, and prompted her to give Everybody Eats a go. I get the feeling she’ll be joining our band of regulars, for whom the dining experience nourishes spirits as much as it does bellies.

Mangere Bridge locals, Cheyenne (11), Joshua (9) and Mum, Janine, are Onehunga regulars. Cheyenne is bursting with praise for the restaurant. “It’s divine!” she said, savouring her last spoon of chocolate dessert. “I’m as full as a bull” she says, before admitting that she’s eaten food here she normally wouldn’t touch, and has decided that vegetables are actually pretty tasty – “the vegetarian is sometimes better than the meat!” she said. They love to come for our Sunday roast, particularly Mum, who finds not having to cook is a nice way to end the weekend. “Coming here helps provide a couple of healthy meals a week, which is really helpful for a solo Mum” she added…and they think it’s fab that they get the chance to chat with new people like Ruth and Lorraine.

Ana and her extended family arrive from West Auckland. They’re popular guests at Everybody Eats and she’s gotten to know everyone by name. For Ana, a busy single parent with 10 kids at home, the restaurant is a lifeline. There are 7 kids in her party tonight and the youngest make a dive for the toy box while they wait for a table. “With a family the size of mine, you get used to being judged’ she said “but here, everyone’s so warm and welcoming and there’s no’s overwhelming”. She is blown away by the number of people who volunteer their time and would help herself if she wasn’t such a busy Mum. “You can tell the food is made with love” she said. As much as enjoying the sort of food she couldn’t provide at home, Ana really appreciates having a bit of adult company…and we think it’s great that Everybody Eats is a place where Ana’s family can feel so at home.

At Everybody Eats, we’re all about addressing food waste and food poverty, but we’re also about community. Our dining experience is communal and we strive to create a safe space that breaks down barriers and promotes connection. We love bringing people together from all walks of life who can arrive as diners and leave as friends …and hope you’ll come dine with us soon.

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