The Kai Kitchen Trust is focused on providing free lunches into schools, helping families living with food uncertainty and reducing food waste. Formed in 2015, the charitable organisation began with the need to help hungry school children.
 
“We started out looking after the wellbeing of children in Taranaki who were arriving at school with no lunch. That progressed quickly to 126 learners in 18 schools,” Rochelle Steer, Operations Manager, said.
 
“We still provide lunches for the children at schools that aren’t on the free Government Ka Ora Ka Ako programme. We also make food packs for families who are in an emergency situation. They are referred to us by police, health professionals, or social workers.”
 
Rochelle said the organisation faces many challenges. “Our fundraising system is a $5 weekly donation to adopt a school lunch. Unfortunately we don't have enough donations to cover our costs for a year.” 
 
Funding of $48,450 from the Toi Foundation enabled Kai Kitchen Trust to continue providing food for Taranaki families in 2021. Along with the school lunches and emergency packs, the organisation has a zero-waste store, where food has been rescued from supermarkets and cafés, and people can shop for free.
 
Michelle Mills, Secretary/Treasurer, said Covid-19 was an added challenge. “The first thing people cut when they are struggling is donations, so the money coming in drops off, but the need goes up.” 
 
“The grant helped with a big portion of our day to day costs. We would really be struggling if we didn’t have it.”
 
“What we do affects the children but also their families and their school environment. If you have a child at school who is hungry, they are not going to concentrate. But if you feed them, they are going to be happier, ready to listen and ready to learn,” Rochelle said.