Fostering young minds with free kai

15 October 2020

A Wellington charity supporting vulnerable young people is now providing lunch to up to 1,500 tamariki every day, improving the students' engagement and school attendance rates.

Hilda Sue, Head Teacher from Ngahauranga Kohanga Reo, holding toddler Henare and a big blue poster promoting 'Do Some Good', a free lunch programme for pupils which has been rolled out at the school. The pair are smiling at each other.

Ngahauranga Te Kohanga Reo Head Teacher Hilda Sue and young Henare are excited about the Do Some Good school lunch programme.

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The Do Some Good school lunch programme works with schools, kohanga reo and kindergartens in Pōneke to support children in need.

A Vulnerable Support Charitable Trust [VSCT] initiative, Do Some Good, has now been extended into six more schools with help from Wellington City Council.

The free school lunch programme has received a grant through Council’s Covid-19 response funding in the Social and Recreation Fund, which aims to support projects and organisations that deliver outcomes to improve community safety, wellbeing and connectedness.

VSCT Community Coordinator Leigh Keown says the $22,059 grant has allowed the trust to extend the programme, which now supports a total of 12 schools in the greater Wellington region.

“We saw over lockdown the real need for support and we wanted to make sure we were providing support to as many whānau and tamariki as we could,” Leigh says.

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“The funding from the Council allows VSCT to expand on the work we are doing and provide breakfast and lunch to tamariki in four more schools and two kohanga reo.”

These schools are Tawa Intermediate School, Berhampore School, St Anne’s School, Newtown School, Ngahauranga Te Kohanga Reo, and Te Iwi Kohanga Reo.

Leigh says the programme is now feeding up to 1,500 tamariki every school day.

“The difference Do Some Good makes is shown in the lower absentee rates at the schools. Kids are more engaged through the day and can focus on learning.”

Council’s Community Services Manager Jenny Rains says this is a fantastic outcome.

She says VSCT’s free lunch programme aligned well with one of the Covid-19 response funding criteria – ‘Enhancing food security and access to healthy food’.

“It is important that students have ready access to healthy food as Wellington’s economy recovers.

“The Ministry of Education’s school lunch programme expansion is expected to roll out next school year. This funding will cover until the end of this school year, with the hope it will ensure continuity of support.”

Leigh says Do Some Good was founded with the aim of providing food to all kids in school, every day of the school year. She says the programme was designed to be simple and achievable so all schools could run it. VSCT organises the food order and delivery to the schools, and the teachers and teacher aids prepare the food.

“It was started in 2017, sparked by a conversation from one of our board members about his sister-in-law taking a loaf of bread to school every day, for kids who came to school with nothing in their lunch box or just a bag of chips to get them through their day.

“Not long after that conversation we introduced Do Some Good into Arakura School, Wainuiomata, and from there we expanded to a school in Porirua, two more schools in Lower Hutt, and a school and kindergarten in Linden.”