EAT MY LUNCH is ON A MISSION - TO MAKE SURE NO KIWI KID GOES WITHOUT LUNCH! TURNS OUT MANY OTHERS ARE KEEN TO SUPPORT THAT MISSION JUDGING BY THEir RAPID GROWTH, landing a ‘RISING STAR - ONE TO WATCH’ award IN OUR AUCKLAND REGIONAL FAST 50 EVENT. The team is NOW EXPANDING INTO NEW MARKETS, HAVING JUST STARTED UP IN WELLINGTON WITH THE FIRST LUNCHES DELIVERED earlier this month. WE SPOKE WITH CO-FOUNDER, LISA KING, ON WHY BUSINESS IS BOOMING.
Can you tell us what Eat My Lunch does and how long you have been running for?
Established as a social enterprise, Eat My Lunch is innovating on the problem of poverty. Our Buy One Give One model provides affordable, wholesome lunches, made fresh daily and delivered directly to workplaces and schools. For every purchase of a commercial lunch, Eat My Lunch delivers a lunch to a child who would otherwise go hungry.
Eat My Lunch started in June 2015, and to date, has made over 260,000 give lunches delivered to under-privileged kids in 32 low-decile schools in Auckland and Hamilton.
Where did the idea for this business come from?
Eat My Lunch was launched after a few glasses of wine in June 2015 following a discussion between myself and Iaan Buchanan about how we felt somehow implicit in the growing social issue of obesity in New Zealand. We were both working in corporate food marketing roles at the time. We were also horrified with the increasing number of children growing up in poverty and going hungry at our own back door. We pitched the idea to chef Michael Meredith – whose own less than privileged upbringing mirrors that of many of the kids benefiting from the scheme and he was in!
Having won a 'Rising Star - One to Watch' award, you’re clearly growing fast. What’s been behind your rapid growth?
With Eat My Lunch, we have created a movement that gives people a tangible product that not only serves them but also helps. This simple, but powerful idea empowers consumers by giving them a choice every day with something they already do. It has an immediate, tangible impact in our own ‘back-yard’ and helps us face up to one of the biggest social issues facing NZ.
Can you explain a little about the new type of meals you’re creating and why you’re branching out like this?
Since launch, product extensions into ‘vegetarian’, ‘gluten free’, ‘hungry’ and ‘gourmet’ lunches have been added to the menu. The new website, which also launched a couple of weeks ago, will now let customers place orders up to 48 hours in advance for both subscriptions and catering. These initiatives help to encourage more customers to sign up for lunch, and in turn allow us to give more lunches to hungry kids.
You’ve also just expanded into Wellington. How have you found this process?
We have been so excited about expanding into Wellington this month. Thanks to Café L’affare who helped us with the Wellington HQ space, we now have a Lower North Island hub that has the facilities to make both buy and give lunches. Being able to expand the business to Wellington means we can continue to grow the service and feed more hungry children.
We're also looking for Wellington volunteers to help with making the Give Lunches. Over 2000 volunteers have assisted with making lunches in Auckland, some of them 2 or 3 times a week, while others are now Eat My Lunch employees.
We were possibly naive for believing people would be passionate enough to help, but it’s been incredible to have so many great people giving their time. We have a 2- 3 week waiting list to get into the kitchen in Auckland and we hope that Wellingtonians will offer the same support!