Queens Park football team up with Koha Kai

Could a plate of nachos and pumpkin soup signal the start of a healthy movement in Invercargill sports clubs?

In an innovative move, the Queens Park football club is working with Koha Kai to trial healthier catering for their clubrooms.

 Koha Kai project leader Janice Lee and Queens Park club member Chris Montgomery. Pic courtesy of The Southland Times

Club member Chris Montgomery was keen to see the standard of food available on a Saturday afternoons lifted from some badly heated frozen pizzas to something a bit more attractive and nutritious.

“We want to be a club that people look forward to coming to, somewhere that you are happy to take the family. The club are really keen to be part of trying something new.”

Montgomery and wife Colleen started the project themselves, sitting up one night making dozens of chicken wraps.

While the wraps were a success, the novelty of being a part-time caterer faded quickly for Montgomery and he decided to look for assistance.

With help from Healthy Families Invercargill, Queens Park have partnered with Kohai Kai, an Invercargill community service which aims to provide people with disabilities opportunities to develop hospitality and social skills.

Montgomery said the club was very supportive of the Koha Kai concept and were happy to be part of the service’s first foray into the club sport environment.

Given the health and social benefits of partnering with Koha Kai, Queens Park was happy to operate its kitchen on a cost-neutral basis.

“Kohai Kai are doing some wonderful work in the community and it’s an added bonus for us that we can lay on some healthier food for our players and supporters, as well as support the good work that Koha Kai does,” Montgomery said.

Koha Kai founder Janice Lee said she was excited about expanding from the successful school service the organisation has been providing over the past two years..

“For us it’s about learning how to work with the public, how to conduct a conversation, how to interact and learning about the service industry,” Lee said.

“What we are aiming for is, in the long term, mainstream employment for the guys, in hospitality. This another really important step towards that development.”

As well as the nachos and pumpkin soup, Saturday’s menu will feature rewena bread, a traditional Maori yeast free sour-dough.

Healthy Families Invercargill manager Jared Cappie hailed the leadership shown by the Queens Park football club.

“It’s great to see clubs thinking about their environment - about the sort of food they are providing, the way alcohol is consumed and being smokefree,” Cappie said.

“We believe those clubs who lead the way can become thriving hubs for their communities. Healthy Families Invercargill is keen to support any clubs who are interested in creating a healthier environment for their members and supporters.”

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