There is a considerable body of research from the Ministry of Health and the Child Poverty Action Group, which shows that feeding children at school is one of the greatest investments we can make, as a community, to help with effective learning for children.
Common in other countries, a school lunch programme goes far beyond a plate of food and has been shown to produce benefits in education, health and nutrition and social protection for children. Did you know that one in five children in New Zealand are food insecure – that is, they are not getting three good meals a day?
The Kai for Kids programme has a small team of volunteers who help to prepare and cook the lunches which are then delivered to Netherby School where a roster of parents serve the meal. Each meal contains a balance of vegetables, meat and grains along with fruit and yoghurt. The favourite meals so far have included butter chicken, cottage pie, lasagne and vegetable soup. All meals are made from scratch using as much locally grown produce as possible. Special meals are made for the gluten- and dairy-free children and the Halal cultural requirement.
Where possible cultural elements are incorporated into the meals. The inclusion of banana poke as a dessert during Cook Island Language Week helps to recognise the different cultures in our school communities. A healthy version of the Pacific Island favourite, chop suey, is another regular on the menu.
The next phase of the Kai for Kids programme is to create an urban farm garden, in conjunction with Trott’s Community Garden, where the children and volunteers will grow some of the vegetables to go into the lunch meals. It is also planned to include garden-to-plate cooking lessons in 2021 for children and whānau members.
If you have some spare time during the week to help in the vegetable garden or in the kitchen, Kai for Kids would love to hear from you. Food donations, especially fresh vegetables, are welcome. Email .
What the kids have to say
‘Thank you so much for bringing Kai for Kids. My favourite meal so far had to be the pizza even though I don’t like homemade pizza but this was mind-blowing.’
‘I’ve loved most meals you have made for us so far. My favourite is the shepherd’s pie. It was so Yum!!!’
‘Thank you Kai for Kids team for making the best meals so far. My favourite meal was the lasagne because of everything in it. I just loved the effort your team put in all of the meals you gave us.’
Words Jo Taylor