Freyberg High School (FHS) has a long-established partnership with Eastern & Central Community Trust (ECCT). ECCT has supported various school initiatives since 2015. FHS is a co-educational decile five secondary school with students from disadvantaged backgrounds. They have a high number of refugee & migrant students, special needs students, a deaf unit, a teen parent unit, as well as a bilingual Māori unit.
A recent grant was provided to support the setting up a commercial kitchen for Ka Ora, Ka Ako / Healthy School Lunch programme. In New Zealand around one in five children live in households that struggle to put food on the table. Ka Ora, Ka Ako aims to reduce food insecurity by providing children with access to a nutritious lunch every day. FHS was selected to be part of this initiative and opted to set up their own catering rather than outsource to a third party as the school felt that they better understood their student needs and more importantly, could spend the total cost provided on each student as it is based on a not-for-profit model.
FHS officially launched the programme in term four of 2021 and it has been a great success to date. Whanau no longer need to provide lunch for their rangatahi and all enjoy a nutritious lunch. All dietary requirements are provided for, be it gluten free, Halal, vegetarian etc. FHS has gone a step further to offer a breakfast club for students and any left-over meals at the end of the day are placed in a special heated cabinet for students to take for dinner. There is no monitoring of how many meals are taken so some students can take meals home for their whanau. FHS ensures no food is wasted with left over meals taken to Just Zilch.
Peter Thompson, the Business Manager at FHS mentioned that the results have surpassed all expectations. They have seen wonderful knock-on benefits such as reduced absenteeism, improved learning and more social connections as students sit and communicate better around mealtimes.
So much thought has been put into the design to ensure the success of the programme – from the kitchen set up, to the way in which the catering team interact with students and finally to the student/teacher dining experience. The atmosphere was open and vibrant and a real testament to the thought and effort that has been put into this initiative
Finally, an important additional benefit is to student learning. The installation of a commercial kitchen has allowed Freyberg to offer Level three food catering courses and have students undertake work experience in a commercial kitchen.
Having seen this initiative in action during a recent visit, ECCT was suitably impressed by the many successes and positive outcomes and hopes that this model is followed in many schools across our rohe.