LIFE Community helps fill thousands of young bellies2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
About 3,500 local school children receive delicious and nutritious hot lunches every school day, which helps them focus and have energy to learn and grow.
All the children from Royal Oak Intermediate and Te Papapa Schools receive the hot lunches as part of the Ka Ora Ka Ako Ministry of Education-led Healthy Lunches Programme. It is driven by LIFE Community, the community arm of local church LIFE in Mount Eden, and has been partnering with the Ministry of Education in this initiative since 2021.
LIFE Community not only serves the two local schools, but also three other schools in the Auckland area. They serve around 13,750 hot meals per week to all five local schools.
“The students love and appreciate the hot lunches,” says Healthy Lunches Initiatives Manager at LIFE Community, Karina Wong.
When asked, one child told her, “it is so yummy that I can focus on learning and not think about my hungry tummy.”
Karina is a resident of Hillsborough, and is thrilled that so many bellies are being filled in her home area. She carefully plans and prepares the menu every month and works closely with Ministry of Education nutritionists to ensure the nutritional standards are met.
The menu is seasonal and the children’s dietary requirements, including allergies, vegetarian and halal, are taken into consideration. The boxes are clearly marked to indicate the various diets.
As well as the Government contract, LIFE Community saw the need to help keep bellies full, so they self-fund a lunch programme to feed students, and the local community, during school holidays too. During the two-week July school holidays, LIFE Community delivered over 4,000 hot meals to the local community.
No food is wasted, and the surplus is delivered to a volunteer, Taka Peters (65) in Beach Haven, who gives the food out to the community.
“It’s wonderful knowing we are a small piece of a puzzle that can help break the cycle of poverty,” says Karina.