“This lunch programme has changed my life” says Manurewa High School Student
Tucked away behind a subtle fence guarded with security on a busy South Auckland road is Manurewa High School. Upon arriving last week the unassuming entrance certainly has more than meets the eye. The high school is the largest multicultural school in New Zealand, with 2000 students representing over 50 nationalities. And importantly, Manurewa High School is leading the way with their firm involvement in the Government-led healthy school lunch initiative, Ka Ora, Ka Ako.
The Ka Ora, Ka Ako initiative provides free of charge healthy school lunches and aims to reduce food insecurity by providing access to a nutritious lunch at school, every day. As of March 2021, more than eight million lunches were served in 542 schools to over 132,600 kids — a number which is set to grow as the programme strengthens. There is no denying the positive impact that the lunches have had on these children — “these lunches have changed my life” mentioned one of the school’s prefects.
There is strong evidence that regular, nutritious food is vital for children’s physical, mental and educational development. It affects their ability to focus, concentrate and learn.
Sadly, around one in five children in New Zealand live in households that struggle to put enough good-quality food on the table. In communities facing greater socio-economic barriers, 40% of parents run out of food sometimes or often.
As a company, Ecoware has a vital role to play in supporting the schools and food distribution companies involved with certified compostable packaging — a safe, hygienic and environmentally friendly solution. Importantly, we’re also able to educate and support Kiwi kids around what to do with their lunch waste when they are finished eating. We know that by teaching more sustainable behaviours and habits from an early age, the next generation will act as our country's caretakers for decades to follow.
Manurewa High School, who are going above and beyond to manage waste responsibly, have a strong ethos regarding waste diversion from landfill. Ecoware’s partnership with the Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme has ensured certified compostable packaging is used to serve the healthy school lunches. Beyond the packaging is a sophisticated bin and disposal system that is clearly labeled ‘compostable waste’ with imagery of what can go into the organic bin. The precision and execution of the closed loop system makes it simple and easy for kids to put their waste in the right bin to ensure no food waste or compostable packaging is sent to landfill.
With these initiatives alone, Manurewa High School is diverting approximately 3500kg of waste per week that would have otherwise been sent to landfill — equating to an estimated 120,000kg of waste per annum! That’s just one of the 542 participating schools who are keeping plastic out of Kiwi landfills each year.
As a New Zealand owned and operated business, Ecoware has been leading innovation and change for the past decade. It has been a real privilege to see what we consider a simple concept being implemented so successfully. The Ministry of Education has taken leadership by ensuring the program minimises waste to landfill and by promoting the use of environmentally friendly packaging, like Ecoware’s range of certified compostable solutions.
As a dedicated sustainable packaging supplier, Ecoware looks forward to supporting more schools through the Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme. A big thank you to the amazing Kiwi businesses who use Ecoware compostable packaging — it’s these customers which have made programmes like these possible and who will help grow the school lunch programme at a national level.