Source: University of Otago
Kimberly Ti (left) with her supervisor and supporter Mary Spiers from the Department of Human Nutrition, with the first Feed My Flat food bags
A dinner party with friends and parents was the catalyst for Human Nutrition research assistant Kimberly Ti’s idea of Feed My Flat food bags for students.
More pointedly, Kimberly recalls it was the reminiscing and sharing of flat cooking horror stories that provided the lightbulb moment.
“There were so many stories, such as the flatmate who put dried macaroni with cheese on top straight into the oven because he didn’t know the macaroni had to be boiled first.
“Or the one who ate raw bacon for a few weeks because he didn’t realise it needed to be cooked. Or the flatmate who only made plain chicken and rice for dinner. The list just went on and on, I can still remember how much my tummy hurt from laughing.”
But what Kimberly remembered most vividly were the horrified looks of the parents. She realised just how worried they can be when kids leave home, including wondering if they are eating well.
Fast forward several months and this week Feed My Flat, a non-profit food bag initiative, has officially launched. Packed and dispatched from a sixth floor office in the Department of Human Nutrition, the week’s food bag consists of ingredients to whip up beef stroganoff, Brazilian chicken curry and pork mince soft tacos.
“It’s really hard to believe the idea which came out of that dinner party is now actually happening and I’m really excited!” Kimberly says. “Especially at the moment with the cost of food rising so fast, I really want to help students as much as possible.”
Mary Spiers, a Human Nutrition Professional Practice Fellow and Kimberly’s Master of Dietetics supervisor, has been a big proponent of the project, and was on hand to help Kimberly fill the first orders.
“Kimberly’s enthusiasm to get this great project up and running right from the start has been amazing,” Mary says. “Students are under a lot of pressure so having three meals sorted for the week, while at the same time setting them up for good food and nutrition skills as emerging adults, is such a great initiative.”
Along with supporting students to learn how to cook relatively simple, budget-friendly and healthy meals for themselves and their flat, Kimberly also sees it as a great opportunity to promote sustainability.
Sustainable and nutritional handy tips are posted on the Instagram account FeedMyFlat, which stars Human Nutrition staff sharing handy tips such as how to wash leeks, efficiently crush stock cubes, or chop an onion and not bawl your eyes out.
Kimberly says her main driver is wanting the best for students. “He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is the people. It is the people. It is the people,” she says. “Anyone can cook if they have the knowledge and skills to, which can become a stress-free habitual task like brushing your teeth.”
She is very grateful for the support of the Department of Human Nutrition, and would like to specifically acknowledge Professor Lisa Houghton, Mary Spiers and Nichola Agnew in bringing her vision to reality.
“We are hoping Feed My Flat will shape students’ future nutritional behaviour, and also the people around them when they leave the university, such as their whānau, friends and flatmates. And hopefully this will mean the end of uncooked macaroni being served up to flatmates!”
– Kōrero by Guy Frederick, Sciences Communications Adviser