You may already have an understanding of the statistics around child poverty in New Zealand. Many people do. Also, many people don’t.

Here is a quick breakdown:

At least 20% of children in our country live below the poverty line. That's over 200,000 kids. One consequence of this is that a huge proportion of those kids are going to school hungry. In some decile 1 and 2 schools, that number is up to 64% of students. That’s a whole lot of young minds who are spending the day hungry and distracted by the sound of their own bellies growling, and a whole chunk of our future workforce who are more likely to achieve poor grades and poor overall educational outcomes as a result.

Eat My Lunch is a social enterprise organisation who have taken simplicity to the extreme in the model and delivery of their new business. We were lucky enough to host Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan for a Q&A session here at GridAKL, giving our residents the opportunity to hear first hand what the journey has been like for them and how they have managed to stay true to the core values behind Eat My Lunch.

Founded by Lisa and Iaan, and brought to life with the loving care of renowned chef Michael Meredith, Eat My Lunch works on a 'buy one give one' system, where people can purchase a healthy, delicious, varied lunch for $12, that is delivered right to them at work or home. For every lunch bought, another is made and delivered to a low decile school to feed our kids who would otherwise go without.

Sounds too easy to work right? It’s not. The instant and uncharted success and support the hearty business has garnered since its inception has been beyond the team’s wildest dreams. By the company's second week in action, they had already surpassed their three year forecast. In week two!

Since their launch in June 2015, Eat My Lunch have made over 200,000 lunches, and are currently supplying lunch to around 1240 kids across 30 low decile schools in Auckland, Hamilton, and soon Wellington.

Iaan explained how the idea came to life over a bottle of wine the couple shared as they talked about feeling a need for change, something to sink their teeth into career-wise that really fed their desire to give back to the communities around them. They had both spent years working in marketing for large corporate food and beverage chains, and explained how they harboured a sense of guilt at the effect that some of these products were having on the health of our nation (New Zealand has a huge problem with obesity, currently recorded as the third ‘fattest’ country in the OECD). They knew they wanted it to be a sustainable social enterprise, running as a commercially viable business rather than relying on donations to survive.

They chose the name from a list of ten that they compiled on the spot, registered it as a legitimate business the following day, and Eat My Lunch was born. What an entrance it made too, with the team whipping up around 400 lunches a day by week two of operation - in their own kitchen no less!

What they have created is nothing short of incredible. Not only is Eat My Lunch a humming social enterprise that is doing kids in the classroom a world of good, but it's provided an opportunity for Kiwis to give back in a way that we all benefit from, both in the short and the long term. There is a lesson here: commercial viability does not need to be at the expense of social outcomes, and further, it's an effective and significant way to affect those social outcomes in a hugely positive way.
 


Casey is the Community and Events Coordinator at GridAKL. You can follow her on twitter here.

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