George Robinson was one of eleven children. He didn't know what it felt like to be 'full' and as the school afternoon wore on he would often begin to feel hunger pangs. It was just normal for him and he thought that everyone else in the class was feeling the same. A rumbling tummy did not help concentration and his worst subjects always seemed to come in late afternoon.
When he commenced secondary school he was entitled to free school meals. He had no idea what to expect and was somewhat taken aback when after queuing at the counter he was given a hot meal of meat and 3 veg and asked what pudding he wanted... he thought he'd died and gone to heaven!
His school performance in secondary school exceeded expectations. The improved diet helped him to focus throughout the school day and he was a much happier and more contented pupil.
He later went on to obtain professional qualifications and rose to a position of senior management in a well-known international company.
George Robinson was my father.
I am Kerry Owen and with 6 other siblings and a constant flow of children from troubled backgrounds, I was raised to help those less fortunate. If you believe, like I do, that everyone is here for a purpose, then I believe I found mine early on in life … and that's about positively impacting the lives of children.
At age 13 I hand wrote 60 letters asking people on my street to donate tins of food to the orphanages in Romania.
At age 23 I hosted children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
After moving to NZ, I learned that NZ did not have a school lunch system like the UK where children in need could access a decent lunch. This deeply troubled me, and I began to wonder how many children were out there going to and from school hungry.
Compelled by my father's story and armed with my own personal experience of running a healthy catering company in the UK, I was confident that I could make a difference. I knew it would not be an easy task, especially having just adopted our fourth child, but I made a start...
In 2010 I built a commercial kitchen and set up an online school lunch company to gain knowledge, experience and credibility with catering to children in the NZ school system. My aim was to create a reliable system that provided high-quality, nutritious lunches to children in need across the country. With this end-goal in mind, I set about discretely providing lunches to children in difficult circumstances within the schools I serviced.
In 2012 I felt ready to make a greater impact. I founded Feed the Need and trialed our first school lunch programme, making 5,000 hot lunches for one school. We are now making 68,000 lunches for 6 schools. We have built a reliable system to get hot lunches to school kids and are well on our way to fulfilling my dream to reach vulnerable children across the country.