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Pita Pit Provides 45,000 Meals Per Week To School Children Nationwide With Ka Ora, Ka Ako

27 May, 2021 — Pita Pit is now providing more than 45,000 school lunches a week to approximately 11,000 children at 50 schools across the country.

There are 88 locally-owned and operated Pita Pit stores in New Zealand and the business has become an approved provider for the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunch programme. Through the programme it offers 50 schools a diverse and nutritious menu (developed by its in-house chef and menu development team) that meets Ministry of Education nutrition guidelines and is getting great feedback from the kids. The meals include pitas, teriyaki rice bowls, filled rolls, nachos and burritos.

Local Pita Pit stores prepare the meals fresh each day for the schools in their area. Where there are no nearby stores, Pita Pit partners with local service providers, such as cafes and caterers, providing approved menus, operational guidelines and support to help them to service schools within their local communities.

Pita Pit first became involved in the Ka Ora, Ka Ako pilot programme in 2019, preparing lunches for schools in Rotorua and Hawkes Bay. The service grew to more than 20 schools during Tranches 1-3 and has now more than doubled. Getting involved was an easy decision for Pita Pit New Zealand’s co-founders, Chris Henderson and Duane Dalton. Both are ex-physical education teachers with a passion for health and fitness and a track record in supporting young people. Duane set up the Tania Dalton Foundation in 2018 — in honour of Duane’s late wife and sporting legend — to help rangatahi realise their sporting potential through scholarships, sports programmes and the donation of equipment to schools through its partnership with Pass it Forward. This year the foundation will contribute 20,000 sports balls to kids in schools.

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Dalton says the opportunity to be part of a programme helping to fuel healthy minds and healthy bodies has been embraced by all Pita Pit stores. “We love the fact that our school menu provides kids with nutritious meals enabling them to be more involved at school. And we are able to use funds generated from the programme to go right back into schools through our association with the Tania Dalton Foundation. It’s programmes like this that make our Pita Pit community very proud to be able to do what we do and we’re excited to develop our involvement further.”

The largest school that Pita Pit works with is South Auckland’s Papatoetoe High School. Its local Pita Pit is the Auckland Airport branch, whose team prepares 1,400 lunches, five days a week for students.

Saurabh Patel, franchisee of Pita Pit Auckland Airport, says, “Having the opportunity to be part of this programme has been excellent. It's a big job — on Teriyaki bowl days we spend a whole day making the rice for the meals — but it’s fantastic. Our team gets to help our local school to feed and nourish our young people. That’s a good feeling.”

The size of the scheme means it is not without its logistical challenges. To counter that, Pita Pit has custom-developed an online portal where schools can place and amend orders and provide feedback. This allows any changes to be implemented quickly and helps to manage allergen and dietary requirements and limit food waste, alongside other reduction strategies which are worked on with the various schools and partners, including scraps going to pig farms, into school compost and worm farms, and leftover meals being offered to families in need where possible.

Pita Pit also takes a proactive climate-friendly approach wherever it can. The business already utilises recycled, compostable and biodegradable packaging for its meals and is now working with Carbon Click to offset its carbon footprint for the programme.

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