Trust feeds Strat­ford’s hun­gry chil­dren

Stratford Press - - News - By ALICE COWDREY

The Kai Kitchen has started feed­ing 52 Strat­ford chil­dren free lunches.

Kai Kitchen founder Rochelle Steer made a pre­sen­ta­tion to Strat­ford district coun­cil­lors at last week’s meet­ing where she out­lined the trust’s role in mak­ing 38,500 free school lunches for South Taranaki chil­dren since 2015.

“It’s a sad fact that we have chil­dren liv­ing in our com­mu­nity that go without the ba­sic needs such as food, warmth and health­care. Un­for­tu­nately we can’t do it all. The Kai Kitchen Trust’s fo­cus is on food.”

The trust is look­ing for a kitchen in Strat­ford to pre­pare lunches and dur­ing the meet­ing was of­fered one by coun­cil­lor Keryn Walsh. Vol­un­teers will also be needed to pre­pare the lunches five days a week and Rochelle says more than 100 peo­ple had shown in­ter­est in be­ing in­volved al­ready. Some food in­clud­ing buns, fruit and cake is do­nated to the trust and the rest is pur­chased us­ing do­nated funds.

A strug­gling fam­ily drove Rochelle to set up the trust. In 2015 she gave a fam­ily of seven chil­dren food for din­ner as well as lunches. The fol­low­ing day the chil­dren had no food at school and it was sus­pected that the mother had traded some food for al­co­hol.

“We felt the only way around this was to feed the chil­dren di­rectly so I ap­proached the school and asked if we could make school lunches for the chil­dren who at­tended break­fast club. The very next day I de­liv­ered 12 lunches to their school.

“So we all de­cided that we will feed the chil­dren di­rectly with the help of the schools and by­pass the par­ents. It has been a com­plete suc­cess.” Rochelle says the Kai Kitchen has built won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship with schools and so­cial ser­vices, who alert the trust which chil­dren need lunches.

The trust has fed chil­dren who have never had cake be­fore or gone to a birth­day party and helps out teenagers who for fi­nan­cial rea­sons can’t go to the school ball. Hy­giene prod­ucts, uni­forms and sta­tionery have also been sup­plied through the trust. Rochelle says the trust has mostly been wel­comed with open arms into Strat­ford.

“We still have a lot of work to do here build­ing re­la­tion­ships, but we are very happy to be here help­ing the kids. All of th­ese chil­dren are treated as if they are my own. Their lunches are made with love and care just like my own chil­dren.”

The Kai Kitchen board of trustees, Hay­ley O’Ke­effe, Ma­ree Beare, Tane Hougston, Michelle Mills and Rochelle Steer.

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