WelCom October 2022
When the school canteen lady retired, Sacred Heart College in Napier surveyed its options. The students asked for an online lunch delivery service but at more than $10 a pop, it was an expensive option. The school principal turned to the Young Vinnies at the school and asked if they could help.
‘Oh yeah, what days can we have’, said Vinnies Youth Coordinator for Hawke’s Bay, Paola Minehan. Paola is often around the school and always looking for ways to help out.
The Young Vinnies at the school took the opportunity and began running the canteen on a Monday and Tuesday. They split into two teams, each having one day a week. A free cereal breakfast is offered each day and lunch is available from between $2 and $4.50. Just one lunch is offered each day, ranging from soup to nachos to mac cheese.
‘The work is frantic, with students lined up as soon as the bell goes waiting to purchase whatever is being sold that day,’ says Paola. ‘The most popular lunch sold so far has been nachos. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, the meals are sold out.
‘Food is prepared by the Food Tech teacher Sarah Coram-O’Kane. We couldn’t run the project without her.’
Paola says the students come from different backgrounds and the need varies greatly.
‘It’s a mixed bag. There are some well-off families and some families for whom Monday is a hard day because there is nothing to eat in the cupboard. It’s a nice school, everyone helps out.’
The costs of running the canteen are met in several ways. The food prep and the running of the canteen are done by volunteers, some food comes from Hawke’s Bay food rescue and the local Vinnies Conference and Area Council make a small donation to help buy ingredients each week.
Everyone benefits from the project, says Paola.
‘It gives everyone the chance to go to the canteen and buy lunch at a very reasonable cost. And it’s very interesting for the Young Vinnies too. They are learning customer service, cash and food-handling skills. And if someone is in need, we just give them the lunch. Young Vinnies make those judgement calls.’
As well as the canteen outreach, some families are provided with food parcels as well through Vinnies, says Paola.