Meredith's: Taking lunches from the rich to give to the poor

Upmarket restaurateur Michael Meredith is one of the founders of Eat My Lunch, due to be launched next week

Now you can have your lunch and give it away too, thanks to a soon-to-be-launched packed lunch business from restaurateur-turned-philanthropist Michael Meredith.

Eat My Lunch, set to open in Auckland next week, uses the buy-one, donate-one model.

Order a packed lunch to be delivered to your office, and Eat My Lunch will donate another lunch to a Kiwi kid who would otherwise go without.

Samoan-born chef Michael Meredith, from upmarket Auckland eatery Meredith’s has teamed up with Lisa King with a mission to help the one in four New Zealand children who live in poverty and go to school hungry every day.

“We hope to alleviate a nationwide issue by creating a change through something as routine as eating lunch.

“We started Eat My Lunch to make it easy for Kiwis to help other Kiwis.”

Due to begin serving June 8, the lunches cost $8 and can be delivered to offices, as well as to selected schools, starting with Cornwall Park District, Pt Chevalier and Richmond Road primary schools. Delivery will be free to schools, and $2 to workplaces.

Each packed lunch will always include five items: a main (such as a sandwich, a quiche or a BLT bagel), a vegetable serving, a piece of fruit, a treat, and a healthy snack (such as yoghurt or stewed apple).

The lunches will be selected from more than 80 different items.

The first school to benefit from the initiative is KidsCan partner Mangere Central School. From Monday, Eat My Lunch will start delivering the lunches, a move welcomed by principal Maria Heron, given 40-50 children arrive at school each day without a lunchbox.

The testing period was met with enthusiasm by the school. “It was absolutely wonderful. The children loved it,” says Heron.

“The food was so nutritious and so above anything we can offer. It was the sort of lunch a child should receive.”

Chief executive of Philanthropy New Zealand Liz Gibbs believes the buy-one, donate-one model of Eat My Lunch offers blended returns, with both social and economic gains.

“I think it’s great. A business like this can leverage both social benefits as well as economic benefits.”

“That’s got to be good for New Zealand because it creates employment for people, and also generates support for the vulnerable.”

Unicef national advocacy manager Deborah Morris-Travers says there is a role for communities in helping mitigate the impact of poverty, for instance, through the provision of food.

Kaibosh, Feed the Need, and the Auckland City Mission’s Foodlink are just a few of the groups and charities working with businesses to deliver food.

The buy-one, donate-one model gained notoriety with TOMS shoes, which changed its model after criticism that western do-gooders flying free shoes into the third world was putting local shoemakers out of business.

But in recent years the model has gained acceptance and expanded, with companies like Mealshare in Canada providing more than 250,000 meals so far.

Here are four other buy-one, give-one companies operating in New Zealand:

Wellington-based Kiwi Optical uses the buy-one, donate-one model for prescription glasses, and has donated 50 pairs of glasses to Wellington children since October 2014, working with KidsCan. Optometrist and Kiwi Optical co-founder Ravi Dass says undetected eyesight problems can cause difficulties for children’s learning, but often parents cannot afford glasses.

“One of the advantages around this type of model is people are keen to donate anyway… They’re getting the glasses they want, and are indirectly helping someone.”

Frank Stationery donates stationery, such as backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils to a school in Auckland every time someone buys the same item in-store or online.

Suspendedcoffees, a pay-it-forward concept, where people purchase coffees to be redeemed by worthy recipients later on, have been popping up in cafes across New Zealand.

New Zealand Discovery Adventures donates to Third World clean water projects whenever customers take part in the adventure activities.