Five months ago Healthy Families Rotorua planned to launch a scheme they hoped would change children’s eating habits for the better.
It seems to be working.
Their Ka Pai Kai scheme successfully attracted a host of volunteers, including groups like Toi Ohomai, Local Food Network, Tamaki Maori Village and Te Arawa Fisheries, and has just gone live in four Rotorua schools.
The scheme sees volunteers come together to make healthy, reasonably priced lunch options, which are then taken to schools.
“It’s been really quite successful,” said Rotorua Primary principal John Naera.
“It seems to have got a really positive response from 95 per cent of the kids.”
Naera’s sentiments were echoed by Whakerawera School principal Te Tumuaki.
“We think it’s great. The food is healthy and appealing to the students. It has proven to be very successful.”
Both Naera and Tumuaki agreed the success was largely due to the fact the food isn’t just healthy, it’s appealing.
“The kids get used to that kind of diet. They look forward to it and it gets them eating fruit daily,” said Naera.
Healthy Families Rotorua manager Mapihi Raharuhi said they were delighted by the feedback they have received so far, and with the eagerness of sponsors and volunteers to get on board.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of corporate sponsors who want to provide or subsidise healthy lunch options for tamariki.
“Health solutions aren’t only confined to those working in the health sector, any contribution can make a difference. Volunteers are an integral part of this initiative as well and this is what will help to make Ka Pai Kai Rotorua successful.
“Schools have been impressed with the affordability of the kai/lunch options delivered, and it has been well received by the students who look forward to their lunches. Parents have been excited about having this alternative option within schools. It reinforces that this is something right for the community.”
Aroha Dorset, iwi development officer at Te Arawa Fisheries, also took on the role of treasurer for the scheme and said they were keen to help.
“Te Arawa Fisheries is governed by Te Kotahitanga O Te Arawa Waka Fisheries Trust Board. It is the job of our trustees to decide what benefits they will distribute. As a board, one of the ideas tabled was feeding vulnerable children in low decile schools,” she said.
“With limited resources we had not yet figured out a way to do this effectively. When the opportunity to support Ka Pai Kai was presented, we felt the initiative was a great fit. Collaborating with Ka Pai Kai means we can do more than if we were to go it alone.”
Raharuhi said that while the scheme is currently on trial, she is hopeful for its long term prospects.
“it is a sustainable model, and should the trial be effective, the aim is to offer it to more schools in Rotorua,” she said.
“We want nutritious and affordable kai to be accessible to all tamariki.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Kai Pai Kai scheme is asked to email Jasmin Jackson at email@example.com.