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New name, same lunch-time goal for lunches

Eat Smart Tairawhiti (EST) is the new name of Gizzy School Lunches but the goal of getting lunches to all students remains the same.

Manager Cherith Whitley said after five years of operation it was time to sit down and think about the branding of the organisation.

“When we first set up it was done in a hurry. We didn't have a chance to think about branding. We just wanted to make sure children got lunches,” Ms Whitley said.

“As we've gone on we would like it to be an organisation that has its own identity and is easily recognisable. We've never had a logo before. We've never had a name that is ours.”

There is meaning behind the name.

“Eat Smart isn't just about eating and providing healthy and smart options but in terms of education we know that having a full puku (tummy) helps you focus and learn at school,” said Ms Whitley.

You eat to feed your brain too, she said.

“This year EST is putting some energy into our high schools We have known for some time that high school students aren't eating. We have learned it's kind of ‘uncool' to have a packed lunch.

“If your mates aren't eating you're not going to pull out yours and start eating it in front of them.”

Eat Smart Tairawhiti wants to take away the stigma of having a lunch.

As well, the organisation has had inquiries from families who say they are too busy to pack lunches every day.

“So the option is here for families who want to pay a bit extra to also get the service.”

EST went to Gisborne Girls' High School to speak to Year 9 and 10 students at the start of the year.

“We know that speaking directly to the students and teachers is the best way to give the students the information on what's available and to say, we are here if you need us,” Ms Whitley said.

More students have enrolled after hearing from EST.

“It opened up the conversation about having lunch at school.

“With the coronavirus situation affecting forestry workers in the region we want families to know that we are here to help.”

In September last year Labour MP Kiri Allan visited EST and spoke about the Government's food in schools programme.

“As far as we know, 10 Gisborne schools were offered to take part in the trial,” Ms Whitley said.

“It will have an impact on how many schools we deliver into but at the end of the day it's about children eating. That's what we are here to do.

“There are still a lot of children the trial misses. We are still delivering to any education providers in our city from preschool/kohanga right through to high school.” Ms Whitley said.

Volunteer coordinator Alena Swannell said in the past week six new people had asked to volunteer.

“Past volunteers are back this year, too. Some are on their fourth year — it's great.”

Student feedback suggested more variety so the menu has been changed to reflect that.

“Each day there are different options — sandwiches, pizza slices, popcorn, muffins and fruit.

“We are hugely supported by Gisborne businesses and organisations.”

The food will be wrapped in greaseproof sandwich wraps as EST decided to move away from plastic wrap.

Come on Tairawhiti, Eat Smart: Volunteer coordinator Alena Swannell (left) and manager Cherith Whitley showing off the new name and branding of Gizzy School Lunches. Picture by Paul Rickard