Koha Kai is on the move and one step closer to becoming self-sustainable after a joint venture with the Ministry of Education.
Next week the multi award-winning charitable trust will be setting up its commercial kitchen Koha Kai Ltd at Elmwood Gardens.
Founder Janice Lee said the joint venture was part of the nationwide ‘Free and Healthy School Lunches’ initiative, and would provide many of her students with employment.
“Because this a commercial enterprise, we have the capacity to provide an opportunity for many of the students that have come through our training programme to transition into the real world.”
Koha Kai was accredited to provide teaching and training to students with disabilities, who have already been helping to feed young mouths with $2 school lunches, since its inception in 2015.
That initiative would still remain, but the new one was completely Government funded, meaning Koha Kai Ltd could concentrate on making a profit, rather than relying on its many community grants.
Janice said there was still some level of resistance in the community to employing people with disabilities, and this was one way of overcoming that.
“So we have invested in them…if the rest of the community needs to catch up then that’s fine, but we need to provide for them.”
More than 1700 children have been involved in the $2 school lunches in Southland, and that would now increase with the Ministry of Education onboard.
Koha Kai received its main funding from Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency – Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Invercargill Licensing Trust, the Ministry of Maori Development (Te Puni Kokiri) and Community Trust South.
Janice said the new premises featured a “fabulous” new kitchen and they had worked in collaboration with the ILT for a favourable lease agreement. “We are really good at operating on a shoestring but we know it will be successful,” she said.
Photo: Anne-Marie Bone, Administrator, Angee Shand, ILT Marketing Manager, Samantha Lee, Hospitality Programme Coordinator, AmberJade Brass, Commercial Enterprise Coordinator. Janice Lee CEO. Photo: whatsoniinvers.nz