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Waihī College kai pack creators Olivia Elliott, Divyash Swamy, and Dianna Oak. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Thousands of kai packs created at college

More than 5000 meals have been made by students at Waihī College this year, filling a hunger gap within the Hauraki community.
Every Wednesday, a group of predominantly Year 12 students – lead by school service leader Divyash Swamy – don aprons and prepare around 200 kai packs which are then offered for free to the public.
It’s a “heartwarming” act of goodwill that is worth one lunchtime a week to pursue, Divyash said.
“It’s become huge now, but the only thing that could be improved on is the [number of students] who come,” he told The Profile.
“When we first started, a lot of Year 13s came and this classroom used to be full of people, but it’s kind of lowered in numbers. I’m completely fine with missing out on one lunchtime a week, and we have just as much fun here as we do sitting outside.”
Creating kai packs at the college kicked off this year, when technology teacher Siobhan Fitzgerald noticed how much food was being wasted when students – absent from school due to Covid-19 – did not collect their free lunches.
To combat this waste, they arranged to use the remaining raw ingredients to create meals for the public.
Divyash said the solution was “a really good way to give back to the community”.
“It makes me feel happy, in a way, because it shows that people are receiving what we’re giving them, but it also gives me the sense that there are so many people out there who need help.
“That’s what motivates us to keep us going and give as much as we can.”
Mrs Fitzgerald said the student helpers were “incredible” and gave credit to Divyash’s commitment.
“This young man brings a crew every single week. He’s our service leader and he’s really risen to that role,” she said. “It’s mostly Year 12s who are coming, and I think they just enjoy the fact they can do something for someone else.”
Around 200 food portions are made up each Wednesday, and are stored in one of the college’s three freezers. Members of the public are welcome to walk into the student centre and fill up a bag. Almost every week, the freezers need to be refilled, Mrs Fitzgerald said.
“Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable coming here; there’s a bit of a stigma still around it, so we’re trying to make it as open and as easy to access as we can.
“But doing it this way means it can get to the right people.”
Meanwhile, the college is gearing up for its annual head shave event to raise funds for leukaemia.
The event will take place at the school on Thursday, September 29 at 6.30pm, and the college is encouraging a great audience support.
With a gold coin entry, attendees can lap up the music and entertainment, sausage sizzle, and all the hair-chopping action. Cash donations can be made on the night, and if brave visitors want to join in at the spur of the moment, they are welcome to partake. Last year the college raised $9724 and was hoping to achieve the same feat in 2022.