"I came in with preconceived ideas - will I be judged for coming in here?"

When Thiago comes in to dine at Everybody Eats in Onehunga, he brings with him an effervescent energy and a smile on his face.

One could easily assume that his joie de vivre is unflappable, like nothing could get him down, but with Jake (Onehunga Restaurant Manager), he very generously shared his story, and it has not always been so sunny for him. Thiago is a pillar of positivity, and his story reminds us that you never know what somebody has gone through to be smiling on the other side. Read about his journey to Everybody Eats, a place he now considers integral in the recovery of his mental health and discovering community.


“I have been living in New Zealand for twelve years, and married for ten. When my marriage fell apart two years ago I was in a really bad way. I was down, and with depression came social isolation. I didn't want to talk to anyone, or tell anyone the truth about how I was really doing. It didn't help that when my ex-partner left she took with her all of our mutual friendships, the chosen family we had built together. The only socialising I did was at work, and that was exhausting. I had been living in Onehunga for two years, but all I really knew of Onehunga was my apartment; that's all I could face.

Some time in this period, a friend recommended Everybody Eats to me - a pay-as-you-feel restaurant where you can meet people and eat delicious food at the same time. I remember thinking it was a cool idea but I was so deep in this darkness that I couldn't face it.”

One evening, when having an early evening stroll, Thiago remembered that something somewhere flipped inside him. "I was walking through Cornwall Park and started feeling hungry. On my walk I saw Everybody Eats was open, so I went in. What's the worst that could happen?

I admit that when I walked into Everybody Eats that night, I came in with preconceived ideas - will I be judged for coming in here? Why would I want to be eating with people who are struggling financially? Surely the food will be just okay? What am I getting myself into?

Thankfully, I was mistaken. Right off the bat, I was welcomed in with a big smile, and for where I was at mentally, that counted for a lot. I was expecting to be taken to a lonely corner, but I was sat with a group of lovely people, strangers at the time, and we struck up conversation immediately.

I had been trying a few different eateries around town and I have yet to find one with a welcome as warm as the one I received from Everybody Eats. From that night on, I feel like I am part of a community, where we share in the experience of a meal that always tastes like it has been crafted with care and consideration. Eating regularly at Everybody Eats often means that I try a lot of new food that I wouldn't have thought to cook myself! It's these new experiences that have given me back a spark for living life.

Fast forward to now, a few months after my dark patch, I have met someone new. One of the first places I wanted to show her was Everybody Eats. Would you believe it, she also loved it, and she has even started volunteering to be a part of your good mission.

Now when I talk about Everybody Eats to people, I can't believe that something so good isn't more well known, and all over the country. My partner and I are hopeful that the word is travelling fast - we both tell anyone that will listen about the good work that Everybody Eats does - it's the exact initiative that the world needs more of. It provides nutrition and social assistance for those who are going through tough times.

There were days in my depression where I couldn't even think about eating, let alone eating healthily or cooking for myself. I now consider Everybody Eats as a part of my recovery - it has helped me enormously with my wellbeing, and it's so heartwarming to feel a part of an initiative that is dedicated to social assistance and feeding the community.”

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