Eat My Lunch supplies lunches to city workers and for every lunch a customer buys, a Kiwi child at school gets a free lunch. This year, Central’s Supreme Business Excellence winner, Eat My Lunch, will make over half a million lunches.

"Eat My Lunch is a social enterprise - we're a business which is about doing good and social impact," says Iaan Buchanan, co-founder with Lisa King, of Eat My Lunch.

Eat My Lunch is a concept that has blurred the lines between traditional charities and the standard for profit business model. Working with thousands of volunteers, as well as business partner and world class entrepreneur Derek Handley, and celebrity chef Michael Meredith, they provide free lunches to 35 decile one and two schools across Auckland and Hamilton and are about to open in Wellington.

"There's a lot of talk around 'why is there poverty in New Zealand?' so one of the things which really inspired and motivated us to launch Eat My Lunch, is that we're sick of all the talking. We just wanted to do something which was going to make a positive impact and do some good. I think a child who's got a full tummy is going to learn better.

They're going to be educated better and, ultimately, I think education's at the heart of people escaping the poverty cycle in New Zealand. So, I think, Eat My Lunch plays a part in that," says Lisa.


Earlier in the evening, Eat My Lunch won the Excellence in Innovation and Marketing categories.

Eat My Lunch is an initiative to provide school lunches to hungry kids. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Eat My Lunch is an initiative to provide school lunches to hungry kids. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"Eat My Lunch was founded with almost no capital. So, we've been incredibly fortunate to have received about $2.5 million worth of PR with almost no marketing budget. The reason for that is we've really captured the spirit and imagination of New Zealanders on how business can drive change. We invited New Zealanders to help us make lunches.

And, in the year we've been operating, we've had around 2,500 volunteers," explains Iaan.

"We've also developed a complex logistics business with a zero-food-waste model. It's real food. It's fresh food. It's 'just-in-time' delivery and we need to know exactly what our demand is, 24 hours in advance."

Eat My Lunch is at the head of a new wave of business entrepreneurship based on strong values around social enterprise.

"Kiwis are a fundamentally generous people. They want to give and Eat My Lunch has become a vehicle where Kiwis can participate in social change through something as simple as buying a lunch. Who would have thought that a business could generate so much passion in the community, engage so many people from politicians to CEOs of big corporates to unemployed people on the street, who all want to come and participate in social change?"