Christmas dinner big effort


600 expected at Dunedin Town Hall

It may have taken only five loaves and two fishes to feed 5000 people in the Bible, but feeding about 600 people at Dunedin Town Hall on Christmas Day will be bigger than Ben Hur.
Hosted by the Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust, the annual Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner at Dunedin Town Hall will cater for about 600 people, both guests and volunteers. The free event will run from 11.30am to 2.30pm.
The trust, led by Dunedin couple Grant and Anne Hardy, took over the long-standing community dinner from previous organisers the Rev Dave Brown and his wife, Jean, several years ago, and this will be the third time it has been held at Dunedin Town Hall.
“It is a privilege for the trust to facilitate this event and help bring joy and companionship to those that attend,” Mr Hardy said.
“The town hall is a wonderful venue for the Christmas dinner. Everything is done up beautifully and it feels very special,” he said.
The intention of the Christmas Day meal is provide companionship for people who would otherwise be spending the day alone, or who may be unable to provide a meal for themselves or their family.
With 52 tables of diners to cater for – each with a host – the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner requires a huge volume of food and a massive volunteer effort to bring together. Those attending the meal will munch their way through 10 hoggets, 100kg of pork, 120kg of potatoes, 72 Christmas puddings,
24 pavlovas, 7 litres of cream, 40 litres of custard, 12kg of vegetables and 40kg of fruit. They will also receive gift bags containing Cadbury chocolate and other goodies, and will pull 530 Christmas crackers.
Mrs Hardy said all the food and other items were either donated or heavily subsidised by local businesses.
The event would not be possible without the support of Compass Catering Ltd, which provided kitchen facilities at Forsyth Barr Stadium and a chef on Christmas Day, and DVML for providing the town hall as a venue, under its community events scheme.
This year, the Golden Centre was donating Christmas decorations and would be putting them up for the event.
Mr Hardy also thanked the 120 volunteers who helped to prepare and serve the food and the entertainers for giving up their time to make Christmas Day special for everyone.
Registrations for guests and volunteers are being taken through Dunedin Community House, phone 471-6150, or email
A special Christmas Day bus service, organised by Otago Heritage Bus Society, will run a return journey to the Octagon from Normanby, St Kilda and St Clair. For details, phone 471-6150.