3 Sep 2015

Native Chef aiming to feed 250,000 kids

8:28 pm on 3 September 2015

New Zealand's Native Chef, Erueti Tutaki, could give the Naked Chef Jamie Oliver a run for his money when it comes to cooking school lunches.

Mr Tutaki specialises in cooking creative Maori dishes and teaching people about the traditional culinary uses of native plants.

He has been working with the charitable trust, Feed the Need, for the past five years, providing hot lunches over a 15-week winter period for tamariki in low decile Auckland schools.

What started off as an initiative to feed 35 children has grown to a large-scale operation where Feed the Need now provides lunches for more than two and a half thousand pupils.

By 2018, Mr Tutaki hopes Feed the Need will be reaching 250,000 children who are going hungry in schools.

"It's actually going to grow even more the following year and the year after that, to the point where we've done the end [statistic], or estimated [number] children in the Auckland region of about 250,000."

A Massey University dietetics team has joined with the programme offer food nutrition advice for the lunches and to make sure the food is meeting the children's taste.

Mr Tutaki said the dietetics team also helped to track the children's' performance in the classroom.

"What we have seen with the help of Massey University students is the education level, their attendance level going up, so if our meals have been helping that process as well, that gives us a mantle in a way to say 'yes, we're on the right track'."

Mr Tutaki said he hoped the future of Feed the Need would expand to a national and, eventually, a global scale.