Community benefits from expansion

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Koha Kai project leader Janice Lee (left), Carla Harrison, Corrina Holland, Ashleigh Veint and team leader Samantha Lee.

KOHA Kai has extended its operations.

The Invercargill-based, not-for-profit group, which helps disabled Southlanders become engaged in the community and gain skills needed for paid employment, has launched its latest Lunches in Schools Programme at Te Wharekura O Arowhenua on Tweed St by suppling low-cost meals for pupils.

Koha Kai project leader Janice Lee said workers who trained in the Lunches for Schools Programme could gain NZQA accreditation, and then be ready to go into the paid workforce.

“We’re just beginning a relationship with Workbridge Invercargill. We have 27 people with disabilities and they all have good confidence and skills; they can do the job safely and properly.”

During the first day providing meals at the school, Koha Kai received 128 meal orders, Mrs Lee said.

“Any leftover meals we can on-sell to the elderly in rest homes or retail through The Pantry in South City,” she said.

Hundreds of meals were prepared by Koha Kai workers and distributed to schools throughout the city each week.

School children were able to get a meal for a $2 donation, she said.

Te Wharekura O Arowhenua principal Gary Davis said the Koha Kai expansion was timely, with more families in the community struggling.

“Some have no food in their homes. It seems things aren’t getting better, so this is a great way we can ensure our children are getting some nourishing food.”

Mr Davis said children needed to be well fed in order to be properly ready for learning.

The school already provided affordable breakfasts three times a week, but now it could also provide Koha Kai lunches three times a week as well, he said.

“We’re probably the smallest school in the [Koha Kai] programme, but we’ve had nearly 130 [of these] meals ordered on the first day. It’s a reflection of how much the children appreciate Koha Kai. It costs them [Koha Kai] more to produce the meals, so they’re running at a loss, but they want to keep the price as low as possible,” he said.

The Koha Kai programme also delivers meals to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Appleby and St Patrick’s School in Newfield.

While at the school, Invercargill Licensing Trust board member Sean Bellew presented a $80,000 cheque to Koha Kai to help establish its community kitchen at The Pantry in South City.

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