Sharing is caring . . . St Andrew's Presbyterian church member and organiser of the ski workers' dinner Ryan Lobb (right) chats to some of the 90 workers who enjoyed one of the recent free dinners for Wanaka skifield staff. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH


Wanaka’s Presbyterian church parishioners are feeding the masses this winter.

Up to 900 people who work for the area’s skifields have been congregating at the church hall each fortnight, where they are treated to a two-course meal.

The concept was launched four years ago due to a slow start to the ski season.

That slow start meant a lot of people were in the area for work, but the work was not immediately available.

To help alleviate the stress that came with that, parishioner Ryan Lobb suggested the church provide skifield staff with dinner, once a fortnight, on Tuesdays.

His idea was welcomed by both the parishioners and skifield representatives.

“We found it was a good thing that we, as a part of the community, did for another part of the community that was having a tough time,” he said.

“There were a lot of people from the church that thought it was a fantastic idea and [a] way of showing our support to the ski workers.”

“One boy looked at me .. and said, ‘Why do you do this?’.”


He said community effort was what made Wanaka a good place to live in.

The dinner, which is free of charge, was usually attended by about 60 people at the start of the season, but once word spread, caterers had been welcoming about 90 by the end of winter, Mr Lobb said.

Meals, which are prepared by five to seven volunteers, include meat, vegetables, salad and dessert, and are supported financially by the church.

“Occasionally, we get some food donations .. but most of it is done by people from the church.”

About four people also helped set up and pack away the tables.

Overall, about 35 volunteers worked on a rostered system.

Mr Lobb said ski workers were grateful for the support, although some were confused about why the church was doing it.

“One boy looked at me .. and said, ‘Why do you do this?’.”

Mr Lobb responded by saying it was a way of giving back.

“He said, ‘OK, that’s pretty cool’. Generally, there’s a lot of appreciation – they turn up and feel like they are appreciated.”

Mr Lobb said a ticketing system was used to book people in for the meal to ensure it was only skifield staff who were attending, and to help determine numbers.

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