Media Release from Wakatipu High School 40 Hour Famine

A group of young student leaders from Queenstown have cooked up an innovative fundraiser to feed families in need around New Zealand while also raising money for Syrian refugees.

Nineteen students from Wakatipu High School have launched a ‘Cook for a Cause’ concept to make as many meals as possible over a 40-hour time period from June 9 to 11 2017.

The goal is to make 6000 meals which will then be packaged, frozen, and distributed to the respective City Missions of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as Queenstown’s Happiness House.

Members of the public will be asked to donate to the cause, effectively ‘sponsoring’ the students in what is a ‘first’ for the World Vision 40 Hour Famine fundraiser.

The beauty of the idea is that charity starts at home with the meals urgently needed and very much welcomed by the charities within New Zealand. However as major meal components are being donated by New Zealand companies, that means all money raised can be directed to help the millions of Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes in search of safety.

World Vision says the money will help re-establish the basic needs of refugees and supply them with things New Zealand families take for granted, like clean drinking water and a safe place for children to be children.

The student team is “thrilled” with the level of support they’ve had to date from local companies. Working with them is leading chef Mark Gregory, the first New Zealand chef awarded the ‘Master of Culinary Arts’ by the Royal Academy and the French Master Craftsman status. Now a culinary consultant and director for leading companies, he is a founding trustee of DineAid, the charity for the New Zealand restaurant industry.

As well as being a guiding hand over the 40-hour weekend, he has provided them with their three meal options — Shepherd’s Pie, Thai Chicken and Coconut Rice and Spiced Apple cake.

Silver Fern Farms has donated 400kg of beef to the ‘Cook for a Cause’, apples have been donated locally and Wholesale Foodservice Distributors Bidfood Queenstown is supplying ingredients.

NZSki’s Coronet Peak ski area is supporting Cook for a Cause by donating the use of its industrial kitchen on the mountain and some staff, as the students prepare, cook and package the meals over the 40-hour weekend.

All containers and packaging has come from Packaging Plus, and transport company Big Chill has pledged to chill and deliver the meals all around the country.

Harley Hamilton, the Christchurch-based Senior Schools Partnership Manager for World Vision who is working with the students, said he wanted to stress how “grateful, inspired and impressed” he was with everyone involved.

“From the initial blue sky ambitions back in December, to the work that has gone in behind the scenes from students Beatrice Onions, Hugh Taylor and Zed Moore, teacher Penny Hearn and the rest of the leadership team, to all of the community support and involvement – it’s insane!”

“I’ve worked with schools for three years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Wellington City Mission Foodbank and Volunteer Co-Ordinator Louise Mearns said the charity was equally impressed.

“We’re so impressed by the project these young student leaders have come up with to help combat food poverty in New Zealand. The food they’re providing will be used in our Drop-in Centre kitchen to serve meals to our community, and distributed to individuals via our Foodbank service,” she said.

“We’re very grateful for this amazing contribution.”

A Facebook page set up by the students to publicise their efforts goes live today (Thursday May 18) and links to the Wakatipu High School World Vision Cook for a Cause fundraising page.

The World Vision 40 Hour Famine is New Zealand’s largest youth fundraising event, attracting each year more than 90,000 young Kiwis to participate.

The situation in Syria is described as the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. Over six years, fighting in Syria has reportedly killed as many as 400,000 people, including nearly 14,000 children. Nearly five million people have fled the country and 6.1 million are displaced in Syria. In the past year, hundreds of thousands have fled to Europe to seek safety. More than half of those affected are children – more than the entire population of New Zealand.

Money raised from the campaign will be used to fund World Vision’s child-friendly spaces in Jordan. They’re safe, supportive learning environments where children have access to arts, sports, education and counselling, enabling them to be kids again.

Photo caption:

1/ Wakatipu High School student team leaders with Harley Hamilton from World Vision (L to R) Hugh Taylor, Harley Hamilton, Beatrice Onions, Zed Moore