Eat My Lunch: help feed hungry children

New Zealand chef Michael Meredith has teamed up with Lisa King to help feed hungry kids with new start-up Eat My Lunch.
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New Zealand chef Michael Meredith has teamed up with Lisa King to help feed hungry kids with new start-up Eat My Lunch.

OPINION: In a country like New Zealand, we shouldn't need a company like ours.

Everyone in our country, from the poorest to the richest, should have access to food, housing, healthcare, clothing, and education.

But that's not the case and it's affecting some of our most vulnerable: our children.

Last year, with the help of my partner and chef Michael Meredith, we decided to start a business with doing social good at its heart: to help feed kiwi kids who went to school without lunch.

Eat My Lunch runs on a buy one gift one model - for every lunch purchased, we deliver a lunch to Kiwi kid in need. In the last year we've given 200,000 lunches to kids in need at 33 schools around Auckland and Hamilton.

Before you denounce the parents of these kids, know that thousands of children go to school everyday without lunch. 29 per cent of them live under the poverty line.

The cost of most food groups in 2010 alone rose 10 per cent, but wages aren't rising at the same rate.

Considering we're a first world country, the fact that over a quarter of New Zealand children live in poverty is appalling, and a testament to why, right now, New Zealand does need a company like ours.

Everyday, Eat My Lunch feeds over 1,000 kids. Kids who previously were kept out of school when their home cupboards were bare because their parents were too embarrassed to send their children into school.

Not only meaning they went without food, but without education as well.

Eat My Lunch volunteers help prepare a day's worth of lunches.
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Eat My Lunch volunteers help prepare a day's worth of lunches.

Children whose parents come in every formation under the sun, and often work more than one job in an attempt to keep their kids housed and fed, which sadly they don't always manage to do. Children who were being fed by teachers and principals (out of their own pockets) because you can't make a hungry kid concentrate on learning.

And if they can't concentrate it disrupts more than just their learning. These children don't choose not to have food or to come to school without.

We know we are making a difference but we are only scratching the surface.

Volunteers package meals at the Eat My Lunch kitchen in central Auckland.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Volunteers package meals at the Eat My Lunch kitchen in central Auckland.

Every week we have schools asking us to help feed hungry children. And these schools aren't only low decile ones.

Currently we service schools in our own back yard of Auckland, and neighbour Hamilton.

Wellington is our next destination, as it has a dense population and similar issues with high fixed costs and hungry kids going to school without lunch. We start there in term three.

But there's more to be done throughout the country, sadly.

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Until the wider societal problems are solved, we are going to keep on feeding kiwi kids.

It doesn't just need to be us doing our part.

New Zealander of the Year, Lance O'Sullivan, may have said it best at an event we hosted last week "the problem is real, but the solutions are in this room".

You can be part of the solution.

How can you be part of the solution Wellington?

Pledge for a Lunch Bond on PledgeMe to get us here, buy lunches from us once we launch in term three, or you could even change your corporate catering to us.

Air New Zealand catered for 400 people through us yesterday. All of those actions help us make a bigger impact.

And one day, hopefully, New Zealand really won't need a company like ours.

Lisa KingLisa is a senior marketer with 15 years experience in blue chip FMCG companies (Unilever UK, Watties, PepsiCo, Cadbury, Fonterra). Through her love of food and desire to do something for kids going without, she came up with the idea for Eat My Lunch. Lisa co-created the Lunch Bonds campaign to borrow money to fund the next stage of growth, which closes Friday on PledgeMe. Lenders can choose to be repaid plus interest, or repaid and help feed more kids.

 - Stuff

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