Children at Netherby School enjoyed a hot, nutritious lunch on Tuesday as part of a new pilot project called Kai For Kids.
From July 20 the school will be the first in the district to receive the free, daily lunch service option for its pupils.
Kai For Kids is the brainchild of local businesswoman Joanne Taylor and has the backing of volunteer supporters.
Some small donations had been received for the new initiative and a number of funding applications were in the pipeline, said Mrs Taylor.
The aim of Kai For Kids was food security and getting healthy, nutritious food into the bellies of local children.
Mrs Taylor said her lofty aim was to offer the lunch option to all primary and preschools in the district.
She was in discussion with other schools at the moment.
Mrs Taylor said a recent child poverty report showed that one in five children in New Zealand did not always have access to three nutritious meals a day.
“We need to look after our own.
“We are a community that cares and we can do this in this district,” she said.
Local caterer Chantelle Quinn from Twentyfour Catering had been helping out with menu options.
Among the supporters lending a hand on Tuesday at Netherby was Mrs Taylor’s son Ollie Sapsford, an All Black Sevens players.
The students were given cottage pie made with five vegetables, a piece of fruit and yoghurt.
Food was prepped the day before and cooked in the kitchen at the Event Centre.
It was temperature tested before being served and compostable trays used, although in the future washable trays will be used.
The service at the school was trialled with one class over two days before being rolling out to all students.
The school will offer feedback on portion size, tastiness and on other areas, and any issues will be ironed out.
Netherby School principal Phil Wheeler said he believed lunch was an important part of the school day.
A school survey showed students were getting enough food to eat, but there was a large packaging component in the lunchbox.
He said the Kai For Kids lunch was an opt-out option for pupils and he welcomed the streamlined service as long as it did not take time out from the core business of teaching.
Anyone wanting to volunteer on the Kai For Kids programme, or wants to find out more about the initiative can email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mick Jensen