Principal says pupils love the goodies from award-winning restaurant owner - especially gingerbread men.
On Sunday night Michael Meredith was named Auckland's top chef. At 6am the next morning he started making sandwiches for hungry children in Mangere.
Samoan-born Mr Meredith, who runs Merediths Restaurant in Dominion Rd in the evenings, has helped to start Eat My Lunch, a company that gives a free lunch to a hungry child for every lunch it sells online for $10.
He starts at 6am to make the lunches and has been delivering 50 of them every day since the business started on Monday to the first school to receive them, Mangere Central School in Kirkbride Rd.
Principal Maria Heron said the decile 1 school previously fed an average 50 of its 460 children every day with muesli bars and fruit pottles from KidsCan. Now their "healthy and nutritious" lunches have different fillings every time.
"They have a vegetable portion being cherry tomatoes and things like that," she said.
"On two occasions they had a gingerbread man, which is very exciting for our students because they have never seen one before. They have only read the book, which is one of our school readers. They were very excited to meet a gingerbread man."
She said that when the company approached her she thought it might supply 10 or 20 lunches twice a week. But the idea of "buy one, give one" has taken off so spectacularly on Facebook that the company will start delivering to a second school today, nearby Jean Batten School, and is arranging to supply a third school.
"It's just gone bananas, people love the idea," Ms Heron said.
"The kids are delighted, obviously. We feed anyone who doesn't have food as a matter of course. Hungry kids are angry kids and headaching kids, they don't focus properly, they don't learn."
Mr Meredith, who was named the city's top chef in Sunday's annual Lewisham Awards, has started the business with Mt Eden couple Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan from the kitchen in the couple's home.
The couple, who have four children under 9 between them, have had careers in marketing and wanted a business with a social impact.
"We have marketed some really big brands including Cadbury, V energy drink, Mars bars and chips. We've spent 15 or 20 years selling salt and sugar and fat," Ms King said.
"We don't give those products to our kids. This was a reflection of a bit of conscience and actually wanting to put our skills to some good."
The $10 lunches for sale can be delivered to selected parts of Auckland but have to be ordered as part of a subscription. Yesterday Ms King and Mr Meredith delivered 100 $10 lunches to Trade Me's Auckland office as well as 50 free lunches to Mangere Central.
Eat My Lunch
• The company gives a free lunch to a hungry child for every lunch that it sells online for $10.
• It is run by Michael Meredith, owner of Merediths Restaurant in Dominion Rd, and Mt Eden couple Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan from the couple's kitchen.
• The first recipient school is Mangere Central School in Kirkbride Rd.
• The second recipient is nearby Jean Batten School.
• The company is arranging a third recipient.