New announcement. Learn more


Feeding hungry young minds

At 5am every school day, the first workers start arriving at The Daily Charitable Trust’s commercial kitchen in Te Puke.

With hair nets, gloves, and aprons on, they set out decks of 16 pieces of bread, add butter, cheese, ham, lettuce, and another slice of bread, and then cut each sandwich into triangles. They do this over and over, working fast and with a focus on meeting the needs of their community. More workers arrive throughout the morning until there is a loud, laughing group of around 18 people and each of the 2000-plus lunchboxes has been packed with a sandwich, a yoghurt, carrots, and pineapple. A new 3-week menu is developed every term, with a mix of cold and hot lunches.

Lunches for schoolkids 

Bobby Baty, 28, is a chef with a young family and, at this point in her life, she doesn’t want a demanding restaurant job with tough hours and stresses that she takes home with her. She posted on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a job in Te Puke and, two days later, she was working for The Daily making lunches for schoolkids and using her chef skills and fresh produce, including donated and leftover food, to create frozen meals for families in need.

“I work 8.45am to 2.45pm. I finish in time to pick my kids up. It's a mum's job,” Bobby says. Some of her workmates are being supported by The Daily to do food and beverage qualifications and chef apprenticeships.

The Daily Charitable Trust was set up in 2014 and opened its first venture, multi-award-winning café The Daily, in 2016. The café has become a Te Puke institution, offering jobs and training opportunities, a spirit of generosity, and a place for the community to connect and get to know each other.

A response to hungry students

Recognising a growing number of hungry students at Te Puke High School, where Chrissi is on the Board, The Daily started sourcing homekill from generous farmers, cooking it, and sending it to the school, to be made into sandwiches with bread supplied by the local foodbank, The Hub.

Providing for more

The contract only covers the 1800 students at schools deemed lower decile, excluding four Te Puke schools. However, The Daily’s General Manager Chrissi Robinson says the favourable tax conditions afforded charities, alongside the fact she doesn’t have shareholders demanding a profit, mean The Daily’s resources can stretch to also provide lunches for almost 300 children in need at unfunded schools.

Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches programme

In 2020, other Te Puke community organisations suggested The Daily should tender for the Government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches programme, which delivers 1 million lunches across New Zealand every week. The Daily was successful in winning the tender for the Te Puke area and, since late 2020, the team has been delivering lunches to more than 2000 students.

Delivering lunches

Luke Landon and his caregiver Stacey Jones deliver boxes of packed lunches to schools. The kitchen team packs up the boxes and Luke lifts them into the back of a new Renault Master van. Trinity Lands gave The Daily $70,000 for the van and a Bay of Plenty company, Synergy Tech, provided a further $25,000 to install refrigeration.

Chrissi says the van ensures food safety and has enabled the Trust to deliver frozen meals to people living more remotely.

In 2022, during the Omicron outbreak, the truck was able to be used as a chiller when The Daily offered 4000 family-sized meals to families that turned up at designated collection points.

“We approached Trinity Lands for some funding, for a refrigerated van. It means we never have to worry about our food safety. So it's just been a massive win for us – and we're so grateful.”

Chrissi Robinson,
The Daily Charitable Trust

Including unfunded schools

Paul Hunt has been the principal of Fairhaven School for 20 years, and he’s noticed a growing need in the community over that time.

“I’m really in favour of the concept of lunches in schools for children in need. Unfortunately, Fairhaven wasn’t eligible for the programme but we do have children in need so we are so grateful to The Daily for including the unfunded schools in their delivery.”

Paul Hunt

Children line up in the Fairhaven courtyard and teachers hand out their lunchboxes. Wiremu Paora Clarke, 9, chomps on a slice of pineapple and says:

“This is delicious!”

Other children around him murmur in agreement as they tuck in. What are their other favourites? They don’t hesitate - the stir fry, the mince, the butter chicken.

“I feel grateful and it's yum as too.”

Hemi Mahanga, 11, savours his sandwich.

Fueling young brains

Kihirini Ronaki, 11 and also a major pineapple fan, says he is much more keen to come to school now he has delicious lunches waiting for him.

“The lunches have improved me a lot, my health.” 

Meri Tamarapa, 11, says carrots are her favourite.

“I have six siblings; four that come to this school. Because of the lunches, we have enough food. Normally we wouldn't have enough for lunch, only morning tea, but now we have lunch and that's delicious.”

Paul says educators see a massive difference in children who are well-fed.

“If a child is hungry, it's very difficult for them to learn. When you've got a full puku, you are ready to learn.”

Sharing smiles & sandwiches: loving what we do for kids

Ben Noble has been with the team for about nine months. He’s a driver but he also does a host of other roles, including maintaining and doing safety checks on the vehicles, washing bins, and keeping the yard tidy.

“I tell my friends I actually enjoy what I'm doing – taking lunches for kids just makes me feel good about myself and what I'm doing as a person. And we’re a really good team. We work well together.”

Ben Noble,
The Daily Charitable Trust

Ready-made meals for the community

Just before lunchtime, Ben delivers boxes of frozen meals to the freezer of iwi provider Poutiri Trust. Sweet chilli chicken and chicken fried rice are stacked up, ready for people who walk through the door in need of a meal.

The Daily has a policy of hiring locals, so the workforce itself becomes a powerful network of workmates that people can lean into when they need support.

Chrissi says The Daily entered the school lunch contract with its usual blend of optimism and determination, but 2000 lunches looked a lot easier on paper than it turned out to be.

“We totally underestimated what the contract was going to require.”

Chrissi Robinson

Healthy recipes kids love

The lunches follow strict nutrition guidelines. It took a while to figure out what foods the children wouldn’t touch (tuna sandwiches) and which ones they love (pineapple), but the kitchen team now has a collection of go-to healthy recipes the kids love. The Daily fills the role of a food rescue by doing a run around the schools each afternoon to pick up the untouched lunches of children who were absent. These leftover lunches are then delivered to other community organisations, such as iwi providers, who pass them on to people who are struggling to afford food – all on the same day the lunches were made.

“Our goal is to feed every child in every school in Te Puke, We’re only about 750 children away from that.”

Chrissi Robinson

Plans to provide for the elderly & unwell

An imminent move to a larger kitchen will enable The Daily’s next goal: fresh hot meals in the home for the elderly and unwell.

“This job is my dream come true,” “Growing up in Te Puke, with a very lovely middle-class life, I didn't have the challenges some families have. I never had to wonder if there was food in the cupboard. And I wanted everyone in the town to thrive. And as a faith-based person, I believe that's why we’re here.”

Chrissi Robinson

“To go from being a mum at home, working at playcentre, to now leading this team that works so hard to help others – I’m living the dream.”