The generosity of an 8-year-old Rotorua boy is helping a free lunch programme continue to feed his hungry peers.

Full Puku Full Potential, which provides tamariki with free lunches, has been inundated with requests since schools started back this week.

Anaru Fitzell of Westbrook School has been using his $40-a-week pocket money to buy food and pass on to the programme's creator Kahira Rata-Olley.

Anaru said he pestered his "nanny" each week to buy food like apples, snack bars and sandwich ingredients because he wanted other children to be happy.

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"I want them to be full or they would be sad."

Rata-Olley said she was blown away by Anaru's generosity, saying he had a beautiful heart.

She began Full Puku Full Potential last year, funding it out of her own pocket and community donations, to provide children at three schools with lunches.

The prepared lunches which include sandwiches, crackers and chips. Photo / Supplied
The prepared lunches which include sandwiches, crackers and chips. Photo / Supplied

Rata-Olley put a pānui (notice) on Facebook so parents were able to contact her directly which made her feel the parents were actively doing something to help their tamariki.

"It's not necessarily black and white, you do have whānau that are really struggling.

"For me it is about trying to reduce the numbers of our children going to kura hungry, regardless of their situation at home."

She said she was a child who went to school hungry and remembered the "unbearable struggles" that came with being hungry while trying to learn.

"It means you can't think because you are thinking about food, you can't learn and that causes behavioural issues."

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Rata-Olley preferred to drop the food off at school rather than at home and did so discreetly so the children were not embarrassed.

She said there had also been cases when members of the family had eaten the food instead of leaving it for the child's lunch.

"If I can get the kai to the kids at kura, at least that is one meal a day that they know they are going to have."

Rata-Olley said she had delivered 20 lunches to schools across Rotorua yesterday. She expected to get busier as all schools headed back next week.

"Our children should not have to suffer, they are the innocent ones. It takes a village to raise a child and we need to be the village."

How to get involved
Get in contact with Kahira Rata-Olley the night before your child needs kai and she will deliver the food before lunchtime.

027 739 3959
Child's name
The school