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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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EIT Hub manager Anna Charrington with staff Michelle Whitley in the background (Photo supplied by Gisborne Herald)

With staff and equipment to produce food, and no customers because of the Covid-19 lockdown, EIT Tairāwhiti Hub manager Anna Charrington wondered how her team could help some of the community’s most vulnerable.

A week later Anna and her two EIT Hub staff Donna Greene and Michelle Whitley made 130 meals of cottage pie and Moroccan chicken with chickpeas in the EIT commercial kitchen for Supergrans Tairāwhiti to hand out for people in crisis. Supergrans is a trust working directly with vulnerable whanau in the district.

“I talked to our manager Glenn Fulcher (Hawke’s Bay based head of school, hospitality and tourism) and he cleared it quickly so we could get on with it,” said Anna.

“The first person I thought of was Linda Coulston (manager of Supergrans) who told me the biggest gap with food parcels was ready made meals – for people living in hotels or places they do not have kitchen facilities.

For Linda, the arrival of the ready-made meals was an emotional moment at a very busy time.

“With a staff level of three we have been run off our feet and when Anna turned up with the meals, I was so over-whelmed I burst into tears.”

Linda is grateful for the efforts of the EIT staff.

“The last couple of weeks have been hectic. While things have definitely waned since the takeaway food options have reopened, there is still an immense need out there. We are still getting referrals.”

The ingredients have been provided by Supergrans through its $5000 Community Awareness and Preparedness Grant from central Government.

The grant is part of $27 million new funding announced on March 26 so essential social services can keep delivering for communities through COVID-19.

This week EIT Tairawhiti Hub staff are doing some more ready-to-eat or freeze meals with beef casserole and curried sausages on the menu.

Anna is grateful to be able to help.

“I feel I’m one of the very fortunate ones in this world crisis so it feels good to give back,” she says.