(l-r) Kasbir Kaur with NZMA cookery student Lingman Gao and ACG Strathallan Year 11 student, Grace Christy.

Heading back to school this year is looking a whole lot tastier thanks to a new partnership between top cookery school, New Zealand Management Academies, (NZMA) and South Auckland’s ACG Strathallan.

The two education providers have signed a one-year MOU which will see NZMA’s Diploma of Professional Cookery students running Strathallan’s cafeteria.

According to NZMA’s Head of Culinary Arts,  Jasbir Kaur the joint venture will ensure students at both institutions have all the right ingredients for success in 2017.

“This is the first time a culinary school has joined hands with a primary and secondary school to run their café and we are extremely excited about it,” says Jasbir.

“Not only will ACG Strathallan’s Year 1 – 13 students reap the benefits of wholesome and nutritious lunches, but our cookery students will get to hone their practical skills and gain invaluable work experience.”

Each NZMA diploma student will spend ten weeks of their two year cookery course based at Strathallan’s Karaka campus, whipping up inspiring, wholesome lunches and mastering the ins and outs of running a catering business. Healthy alternatives to common tuck shop fare will be at the top of the menu.

“Good nutrition is vital to optimise students’ learning. We’ll be serving smoothies not sodas, oven baked chips instead of fries, and even alkaline water. Our focus will be  on providing health-based dishes and teaching young ones how eating well can enhance energy and focus in the classroom.”

That focus appeals to ACG Strathallan Principal Robin Kirkham, who said the venture perfectly embodied the school’s emphasis on teaching and learning.

“We want to provide healthier options and more creative and exciting menus, but having catering students on campus learning their craft also fits with our educational ethos and community focus ,” he said. “There’s also the potential for NZMA students to be role models for some of our students at ACG Strathallan.”

He said the venture would see the school have more say into what the café serves and inspire new initiatives.

“The café is an important hub of the school and will become even more so as we develop its potential with the help of NZMA. We want to create options for providing a culinary service to teachers and parents, a pleasant environment where our families and staff can meet to talk through school matters or pop by after dropping their children at school,” he explained.

NZMA has long been an avid supporter of the healthy eating movement, and prides itself on training chefs who have not just exemplary cooking skills, but also a social conscience.

“Our cookery students regularly visit low decile Auckland primary schools to provide kids with nutritious lunches and to help raise awareness about the thousands of Kiwi kids that go to school hungry each day. We help out regularly with Michael Meredith’s Eat My Lunch programme, and also have an ongoing partnership with food rescue organisation Kiwi Harvest to feed Auckland’s needy,” said Jasbir.

The latest initiative is yet another innovative way the provider has found to reach out to its local community.

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