My Ministry: Steam puddings for Christ

Over the past 31 years, Allan Foote, a now-retired pastor from New Zealand, has cooked and sold more than 36,000 steam puddings to raise funds for local church initiatives and the wider community.

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Pastor Allan Foote holding a steam pudding, wearing a "huli wig" from Papua New Guinea at the recent North NZ Big Camp.

Over the past 31 years, Allan Foote, a now-retired pastor from New Zealand, has cooked and sold more than 36,000 steam puddings to raise funds for local church initiatives and the wider community.

“None of [my steam puddings] have ever been baked to make money for myself,” said Pastor Foote. “It’s all for community work.”

Most recently, Pastor Foote made 72 steam puddings in one day and sold them at North New Zealand’s Big Camp at Tui Ridge, with funds going towards a church in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where he was the district pastor from 1971 to 1976.

“About $NZ450 will go into my church account . . . [to] help provide the church with lesson pamphlets and other things they need,” he said.

Pastor Foote sells the steam puddings for $NZ7 each, and says it costs about half that amount for the ingredients.

“I only charge the cost of the ingredients, cooking gas and the labels. I don’t charge any of the profits I could if I had a business. I just want to be reimbursed for the ingredients, and the rest goes to charity,” explained Pastor Foote.

Made from a recipe passed down from Pastor Foote’s mother, the steam puddings are vegan, tasty and very popular with the community. In addition to the regular puddings, he also makes muffin-sized puddings and occasionally chocolate or raspberry lamingtons, with puddings being requested and purchased all year round.

“They’re just so popular,” said Pastor Foote. “I can’t sell enough of them. The recipe my mother had my sister and myself modified it a bit. There’s no eggs or animal products or anything, and I mix all the fruit myself.”

Affectionally known as the “pudding pastor”, Pastor Foote’s puddings have travelled as far as Hong Kong, Canada and Australia, helping others to raise funds for ministry too.

“I have only given my recipe to three people—to the Norfolk Island Pathfinders to fundraise, to a church in Hamilton and to a lady in Wellington who was struggling to raise funds for her family. The Salvation Army has also bought 300 puddings and on-sold them to help pay for a new church,” he said.

"None of my steam puddings have ever been baked to make money for myself. It's all for community work."

Through selling steam puddings, Mr Foote has helped a young person graduate school, given food to food banks, supported women’s refuges and used funds to throw parties in children’s hospital wards.

“We had a call from Longburn College (NZ) to say that a boy from Wellington couldn’t graduate because he still owed $NZ1000. I found out on Thursday, bought the ingredients on Friday, sorted and weighed and mixed them on Sunday, baked 312 puddings on Monday, and they were all sold by the evening,” explained Pastor Foote. “The next morning I sent him the $1000 in the mail, and he graduated.”

Pastor Foote strategically calls his puddings “steam fruit puddings” rather than “Christmas puddings” to increase his reach and community influence. He also attaches a Bible verse sticker to every pudding he sells: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

“Last Christmas, I took a pudding to every house in the street. I got to one door and the lady said, ‘We don’t believe in Christmas, we are Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ I said it was steamed fruit pudding—that it was just food—and she took it.”

At 77-years-old, Pastor Foote is well retired now, but remains very active and involved in the community.

“I’m running on Michelin’s now, I got rid of the cheap tires,” he laughed. “I’m based in Rotorua (NZ) and I regularly preach at four different churches nearby, and I volunteer a lot on the chaplaincy team at the hospital. I’m also the president of my local rotary club.”

Despite his capacity to turn his fruit pudding ministry into a business, Pastor Foote maintains a strong ministerial attitude.

“I’m a pastor, retired, I get my pension. I don’t want any of that money to go into my own pocket. I love it [as a ministry] because people out there are getting to know why I do this. I don’t preach to the people, but I demonstrate what I consider the attitude the Lord would have to people in need. I’ll find out in the kingdom the people that have been blessed by them and influenced by them. No glory to me.”