ASB Good as Gold: Janice Lee

10 August 2016 / Published in Your Community

ASB Good as Gold is an ASB initiative recognising, rewarding and helping wonderful people in our community. We ask the public to nominate people who are making a real difference in their community, have grabbed hold of life against the odds or who really deserve help in a time of hardship.

Formerly, these stories were told on Mike Hosking’s radio show but they have moved to become a regular segment in Seven Sharp on TV One beginning tonight with a wonderful recipient from Invercargill – Janice Lee.

Janice Lee runs a charity in Invercargill that helps people with disabilities gain skills and qualifications. She was nominated by her daughter Samantha.

While working with an organisation that provides support to people with disabilities, Janice discovered that they often weren’t eating nutritious meals. To help combat this she formed a foodie club. Those who wanted to participate, contributed $25 per week towards groceries. Once a week the group would make a meal plan and budget as a group, going shopping and then cook the meals in the staff kitchen. This was the start of Koha Kai.

After six months Janice decided to leave her paid employment and pursue the project full time. It’s now two years later and the charity is accomplishing a lot, working to its mission statement: To encourage life with a purpose.

ASB Good as Gold: Janice Lee

ASB Good as Gold: Janice Lee

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In her nomination letter, Samantha writes, “While looking for the use of a kitchen that wasn't her own (dad was having kittens over the power bill from oven use when they cooked at Janice's house) she began talking to her grandson’s (Cairo) school and came to the conclusion that in exchange of the use of the kitchen to continue Koha Kai's awesome work, we would provide the same healthy home-cooked meals to the children for a gold coin donation.

“This began in the new school year of 2015 and by present day we are now in 3 different schools in Invercargill and talks of more schools wanting to join our Food in Schools programme! We aim to take on predominantly low decile schools in high-need areas and hopefully reduce the amount of child hunger in our community. Each school has a team of its very own! I, myself, am a Team Leader of New River Primary and I have a team of four others; two of whom have disabilities. As well as our three teams within the school, we also have a garden team made up of six individuals; four of whom have disabilities. And their role is to tend to the (currently) nine gardens we have throughout town where we grow, nurture and harvest all our own crops and produce to help bring down the expense of the groceries. Along with a few community gardens, most of our gardens are at the homes of some of our more isolated elderly or disabled residents in Invercargill that enjoy the visits and fresh produce we grow and share with them. Lastly with all the leftover food from the Food in Schools programs we plate and freeze. These meals go to our school for gifted children (ENRICH) and on our behalf they sell them to members of the community for $7 each. And all proceeds go right back into buying groceries for the next school week, or uniforms for our crew, or seeds and fertilizer for our ever-growing gardens.”

Find out more about Koha Kai.


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