FLAT OUT: Food for Life founder Buddhi Wilcox tests out the new chapati maker which yesterday made 400 of the flatbread for schoolchildren. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
FLAT OUT: Food for Life founder Buddhi Wilcox tests out the new chapati maker which yesterday made 400 of the flatbread for schoolchildren. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

A healthy alternative to “nasty” cheap white bread is on the menu for hundreds of Northland schoolkids thanks to a $10,000 donation all the way from Singapore.

Food for Life founder Buddhi Wilcox had been wanting to make chapati – a thin pancake of unleavened wholemeal bread – for the students for years. Founded in 2012, the organisation provides free, nutritious vegetarian meals weekly to more than 1000 Whangarei schoolchildren.

Unfortunately making chapati is quite time-consuming, with it likely taking a volunteer five or six hours to make the number required.

“The whole idea for me was at the schools a lot of the kids are just used to having cheap nasty white bread,” Mr Wilcox said. “This (chapati) is a staple diet in India and it’s part of a good balanced meal.”

Normally the commercial chapati making machines were very large, though Mr Wilcox managed to find a small one less than 2m long online from the United States.

At a cost of about $10,000 the organisation was unable to afford it alone. He wrote to Atin Kukrejas who lives in Singapore with his wife Fleur, who is from Whangarei. When they were here visiting her family at the start of last year Mr Kukrejas offered to sponsor a school for an entire year.

“He wrote back and said how much is it and then just sent a cheque,” Mr Wilcox said. “It’s a lot of money but at the same time that’s going to last a lifetime. If we add it up over the years and the amount of chapati it’s going to make it’s not that bad.”

They could potentially feed up to 1000 kids a day with the machine, he said.

“This kind of bread, there’s no additives in it,” Mr Wilcox said. “It is just brown wheat and water and salt and there’s a little bit of yoghurt.”

The organisation was also looking for more sponsors for their $15 a month club, which feeds four schoolchildren a week. “Basically the price of a coffee a week and we can feed four children for that.”

They were also looking for a medium sized warehouse to expand into.

– To join the $15 a month club email info@foodforlifenorthland.org.nz or to make a one-off donation visit www.givealittle.co.nz and search ‘Food for life’.