Koha Kai: 2020 Award for Community Programme of the Year Tangata Tiriti

The 2020 ACE Aotearoa Annual Award for Community Programme of the year Tangata Tiriti has been awarded to Koha Kai.

Koha Kai is a social enterprise operating a food cart, with 8.5 staff, a team of about 36 people with disabilities, and a group of volunteers working in eight schools in Invercargill and Tuatapere. The enterprise offers training in cooking and providing healthy koha lunches for children in low decile schools.

Since 2015 over 100 people with disabilities have gained a recognised qualification in cooking and some in horticulture as well. All of them have moved confidently into further training, employment or independent living.
The training process involves small groups of trainees attending a cooking class and learning a new recipe which they then make at home. Literacy and numeracy skills, are acquired in this specially designed teaching programme and colour-coded rosters and an app have been developed to assist students to find which school they have been allocated to provide school lunches.

The training programme has six levels including an induction which covers work expectations, the Koha culture and a code of conduct. Blade skills, mixing skills, savoury and sweet cooking, health and food safety, interpersonal skills and technology are all covered at further levels. By the time a trainee has completed all levels they will be working independently and with confidence.

Koha Kai trainees are now growing a lot of food and getting vegetables from three of their school gardens and one market garden. Trainees interested in employment in horticulture can work there and study for NCEA in Horticulture Foundation studies, provided by Southland Institute of Technology.