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Students fed by Lunch Club teens

Posted at 3:07pm Wednesday 03 Jul, 2019

A group of Year 13 students from Whangaparaoa College has been quietly providing free food for school lunches to a local primary.

The initiative began a year ago with lunches provided for Whangaparaoa School and recently the students extended the same support to Stanmore Bay School.

The Lunch Club is made up of four friends, Heleina Vaha, Lucy Hughes, Piper Widdison and Miruna Pop.

Heleina says the scheme began at a Young Women Leadership course at Massey University which all of them attended. They chose providing food to primary schools as their project for the course because they wanted to help their community in an area they say goes under the radar.

“People think the Hibiscus Coast doesn't need that sort of service but we know that there are always some that struggle and you really can't focus on schoolwork if you're hungry,” Heleina says.

They started by putting together around a dozen lunch packs, but following feedback they now assemble a range of non-perishable food items in a box that the Lunch Club delivers to the school once a month for distribution to students.

They also make sandwiches and bring them, with fresh items like fruit, to the school every week.

It costs the team around $50 each time to put together the items for two schools, and they raise this through their own fundraising, which includes sausage sizzles.

The girls all have examples from their own primary days of students who did not bring lunch.

Lucy remembers a boy who didn't have lunch and was disruptive in class. She says the students began sharing their lunches with him and once they did this, his behaviour improved.

Now in their final year of college, the Lunch Club members hope to keep their initiative going once they leave.

“We don't want to let it go,” Piper says. “It breaks our hearts to imagine them going without.”

The group is in the process of thinking how to keep it going, which may include recruiting some new members.

“It's not a huge commitment, because we're all friends so it's just a regular get together to do the shopping and the fundraisers,” Piper says.

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