• June 21, 2017
Hui-Ming Huang has given free fish and chips to the hungry. Photo: Nicole Barratt
A takeaway shop owner has taken matters into his own hands to ensure his community will not go hungry, but some locals are concerned he is being intimidated.
Hui-Ming Huang owns Ming Takeaways in Birkdale on Auckland’s North Shore.
He said every couple of months kids come in “really hungry”, asking for free food.
“It’s hard to say how often, but most are very hungry…They say there’s no food or shopping in their house. I just want them to feel full.”
Mr Huang said he has given chips, fish and wontons to kids, teenagers and adults free of charge, because he does not like to see people hungry.
“They tell me, and I believe them. I don’t want a kid hungry…Of course they are happy and grateful.”
Mr Huang said he also lets customers pay him back if they find they are a few dollars short – which happens every few weeks.
“Sometimes they come in with a $2 coin and something will cost $5, but I just say that’s okay, they can pay me back.”
He said those coming in asking for free food only do it when “they feel they have no choice”.
One Birkdale resident, who did not want to be named, said he saw three teens last month ask Mr Huang for free food, which he felt was “a bit of a bully tactic”.
“I do understand that families out there are struggling, but they could say, ‘We’ll help you clean up or do your dishes if you feed us’, a pay-it-forward-type thing.”
Birkdale and Beach Haven Community House project manager Carla van Walen said Mr Huang’s concerns about hunger in the neighbourhood were valid.
She said she recently received a phone call from a solo mum “in hysterics” because she didn’t have enough food to feed her family.
Ms van Walen advised people to visit food banks at Cedar Centre or Birkenhead Baptist Church if they didn’t have enough food.
“That’s a start for families. They pretty much say you can go in there, no questions asked, and have food,” she said.
For the community house, it was about taking a holistic approach to why families did not have food and offering support systems, she added.
“We’re always here to support and to refer people onto the right people.”
Danielle Grant, chair of Kaipātiki Local Board, which includes Birkdale, said it was “definitely a concern if young people are
feeling like they’re hungry”.
She said she supported Mr Huang’s decision to aid the community, as long as he was comfortable in doing so.
“But we do have a number of support agencies, food banks, and certainly our community houses and centres.”