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Something wonderful is cooking at Pt Chevalier School

Something wonderful is cooking at Pt Chevalier School

Each week for the past few months, teachers from Point Chevalier School have delivered delicious, freshly-prepared pots of soup to the Auckland City Mission. Every pot is carefully prepared by students, who also contribute the bulk of the ingredients.

School principal, Stephen Lethbridge, says the initiative started when a teacher decided to bring plates of food left over from a school function to the Mission at the end of Term Two. When she arrived, the teacher was shocked by the number of homeless people who were waiting in line for dinner.

“This particular teacher was truly surprised by the number of people there,” says Mr Lethbridge. “Even though the media had reported large number of homeless, you don't get a sense of this unless you see it first-hand.”

The school then rang the Mission to find out how they could support the charity on a more regular basis. They learned that the Mission doesn’t have a commercial kitchen and relies on donations of cooked food in order to provide meals.

“We decided on soup, as it would be easy for our students to contribute small parts towards, as well as relatively easy to prepare with our limited cooking facilities,” says Mr Lethbridge. “We started on the first week back at school. The senior team of eight classes all got on board and we formulated a roster for the term.”

Students largely enjoy cooking the meals, saying they like contributing to a good cause as well as learning how to cook.
“I really like making soup for the City Mission, because I am helping them and making a change in the world,” says 11 year-old Sasha de Spong.

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Each week, students bring in contributions, peel, chop and prepare food with the help and supervision of parents and teachers. Aside from soup, one class prepares bread rolls from scratch. At the end of the day, two teachers deliver the soup to the Mission.

The local Point Chevalier Countdown provides the school with many of the ingredients needed for the soup. Mr Lethbridge says the school relies on student donations as much as possible, however, in an effort to show the children how even small contributions can make a difference.

This term, the initiative was opened up to the rest of the school and some of the more junior classes have become involved as well. The school’s desire to support Aucklanders in desperate need has also developed in other ways.

“This term, as part of our technology unit, the students are developing items for the homeless population in Auckland,” says Mr Lethbridge. “Some are making care packages, while others are making multipurpose jackets. As well as the curriculum learning involved, this really is a great experience for our children - focusing on empathy, belonging to a community and the rights and responsibilities this affords them.”

Point Chevalier School hopes sharing their story and experience will encourage other schools to consider replicating the initiative.
“Intermediates and high schools have food tech rooms, which would be ideal,” he says. “We are using one oven/stove top in a small room - so if we can do it in such limited space then others should be able to as well.”

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