Saying no to food waste feeds Hamilton communities in need

Wintec Culinary Arts staff are fighting food waste by feeding up Hamilton's communities in need

Wintec’s Culinary Arts team (from left) Sarah Turpitt, Marco Guimarães, Jenna Clarke, and Carolyn Reeve are fighting food waste by feeding Hamilton’s communities in need.

The Wintec Culinary Arts team have a kaupapa (purpose, policy) : ‘We do not throw food in the bin’.

As a school that teaches hospitality and cookery skills, a lot of food is cooked in the Wintec kitchens from trainee chefs, so saying no to food waste means they’ve had to get creative with what happens to surplus food.

Marco Guimarães, a hospitality tutor at Wintec Centre for Trades, has teamed up with St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) in Frankton, Hamilton, to serve the extra food to local communities in need.

“There is a lot of food made in the cookery practical classes and I think it’s criminal to throw it in the bin,” he says.

“I got in touch with Vinnies in Frankton and had a chat with their crew about using the leftover food to feed people in need, and they were very keen to take this vision and make it a reality.”

The student-made food is now shared withlocal Hamilton communities three times a week by Vinnies.

Feedback from Vinnies and the communities they serve has been overwhelmingly positive, with over 400 people attending the lunches over the past few months.

“Nothing is wasted at Vinnies, and we have a good knack of finding ways to use everything we receive,” says Mary Ngaronga, Vinnies Community Centre Special Project Manager.

“Thanks to Wintec, we have been able to offer 2-3 servings of food instead of one, which has allowed us to introduce new types of dishes that we couldn't afford to make before, like a vegetable and goats cheese terrine, which to our surprise was extremely popular,” she adds.

Being engaged with the local Kirikiriroa Hamilton community is a passion of Guimarães’s, and he is enthusiastic about creating more opportunities for the Wintec Culinary Arts team to give back and get involved.

“Being engaged with community gives amazing skills to students. They cook the food, and they see the end result of where their food is going. Staff also get involved, and we’re all enthusiastic about making a positive impact in the community,” says Guimarães.

“We integrate this community engagement with work-based learning. It is important that we instill values such as kōtahitanga (unity), manaakitanga (hospitality, generosity), wairuatanga (spirituality), kaitiakitanga (guardianship) while they are students here at Wintec, in the hope that our tauira (students) will use those values in their future paths,” he says.

Another social project idea he’s got bubbling away on the stove is a solution to food waste and an educational tool to help people get creative with cooking with only a few ingredients, called a ‘My Vinnies Bag’.

The ‘My Vinnies Bag’ would contain some of these products with a few other pantry ingredients, while the recipes would be concocted by Wintec chef tutors, with the involvement of tauira.

“Vinnies receives a variety of food from other organisations that includes raw meat and vegetables that they can’t serve for lunches readily,” says Guimarães.

“We would like to make YouTube videos of our chefs preparing the ingredients in a variety of different recipes for people to watch and learn how to make several meals out of these few ingredients. We hope this will empower them, and it’s good for the wairua” he continues.

The socially-minded Guimarães hasn’t stopped there though. He is working with another Wintec staff member at Wintec’s Centre for Trades to create a system where staff and teams can log their community engagement activities to generate data on Wintec’s community engagement.

“In the future I would really like to take this project and make it Wintec-wide, so we can maximise our positive impact in the communities as an organisation,” Guimarães says.

“There’s so much value for our students going out there into the community and engaging. They’re putting into practice the hard and soft skills they’re learning in theory,” he says.

“I’m passionate about not having people hungry. We need to get people, kids especially out of this cycle,” he adds.

“As long as we’re cooking food at Wintec, we’ll be sharing it with our community. Community work speaks to my heart.”

Interested in studying hospitality and cookery at Wintec?

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