Salvation Army Henderson Faith Factory, are leaders amongst the Waitakere community. The Salvation Army sees a large number of west Auckland families walk through their doors, accessing different services that are on offer. A common issue has been the ability to provide healthy meals for their whānau on a modest budget. The Salvation Army can now provide a new way for families and individuals to provide for themselves through Kai Putea. This workshop teaches the skills necessary for families to make 5 meals that feed 6 people for under $50.

Wendy Rangi, the Money Mates Facilitator at Salvation Army Henderson says that Kai Putea has given them the opportunity to help families get their confidence back in the kitchen. “We had a mum who was dealing with a lot in her life. Healthy eating for her and her children was unachievable in her eyes at that time.”

Kai Putea was taken and adapted from Kai Time, which is a wānanga that instils indigenous knowledge of Māori history around kai and wai. The 3 hour wānanga covers everything from how kai was prepared to how we can take care of Papatūānuku through recycling. Kai Time was taught as a professional development workshop for a group of food bank providers, including Salvation Army Henderson, that were brought together by Healthy Families Waitakere Activator Michele Eickstaedt and Kaiwhakahau Diana Neru. They convened these groups to strengthen the individual services. 
Salvation Army Henderson have seen 21 whānau come through Kai Putea and say they have noticed a direct link between Kai Putea and the improvement of mental health for some whānau. “Kai Putea allowed me to connect with a whānau I had been struggling to engage with for a long time” says Wendy. “After challenging this mum to cook one dish, she came back the following week with photos of every single dish we offer in Kai Putea. She had cooked them with her children.”

Salvation Army Henderson admit they did not anticipate Kai Putea to be as well received by hard to reach whānau. However, they credit Kai Time for the tools that helped them engage through a new way they hadn’t explored before which has  empowered whanau who require assistance through food parcels and budgeting services. “It has always been difficult to talk about a persons’ health and the wellbeing of their whānau when you know there is so much more going on in their personal life.

Kai Putea is a welcoming space for whānau to learn, be encouraged, gain confidence and allows healthier choices to be made achievable again to whānau who had otherwise given up.” Wendy added that they will continue to share these skills with whānau and are thinking of how other indigenous knowledge can be incorporated into more areas of work.

Image: Kai Putea in action at Salvation Army Henderson