Community Dinners Launch
Last time we talked, we said we at Pomegranate Kitchen were going to take a pause in our catering activities, and research the options that we had available in order to continue sustainably.
As you all know, Pomegranate Kitchen helps refugees and newcomers get commercial cooking skills, New Zealand work experience, jobs, and help integrating into their new community. We can be proud of our progress, but we also know that there isn’t a future for us in the model we have created.
Our wage costs are still very high, in part because of the impact we create in working with people who have language barriers and are not trained cooks. This, coupled with an unforgiving hospitality industry, and a small Wellington market, meant we just weren’t seeing the growth that we needed to. We spoke to an organisation overseas – out of their 63 kitchens like ours, not one is self funding. We knew that something had to change.
So over the last two months, we have paused – and we’ve been reflecting on what needs to change, but we have also been reaching out. To non profits, national government, and businesses. To invite them along to find a journey that is slimline, easy and works well for us AND our cooks.
And we think we’ve found it.
We want to create community dinners, where new arrivals, and established locals can connect. Initially every month, people will come together, sharing food, changing assumptions, and making important networks and connections. Our cooks will still be paid for this, and receive industry experience and skill development in doing this work. These will begin in July 2019.
Why did we choose this?
-We know that our first pop up dinner we put on at Pomegranate last year sold out in 12 minutes. We thought the website had broken!
-We know that in our current model, our cooks are catering food, in the kitchen with each other, but they are not connecting with as many new networks as they could be.
-We know that since the events horror in the Christchurch mosques, there is a groundswell across the country for more connection, more understanding. To help all our communities to be resilient and all our citizens to feel safe. This is something that is not just confined to Wellington.
Some features of these dinners, at this point in our thinking.
-Our cooks will plan and cook their own food, and be able to share their culture
-There will be trained volunteer facilitators to ensure lively and culturally safe conversation, and talking points on the tables
-They will be co-designed with people from that community
-They will lead to a development of a tool kit which can be rolled out nationwide.
A lot of this can be done with the help of our local council, and the New Zealand Red Cross who operates nationally in this area. We are united in our strong support of this kind of work.
And it brings us back to the beginning of Pomegranate Kitchen, right at the start – we saw women who wanted to share food, and be paid for that work. Our purpose hasn’t changed, we will just be delivering it in a different way.
So I’d like to ask you – do you think this is necessary, in your area? Can you support us to do this?
If so, please fill in this form here so we can let you know more when they start.
And if you’d like to donate a little to help us on our way, our bank details are here: https://pomegranate.org.nz/get-involved/ or you can find us on The Good Registry: https://thegoodregistry.com/products/pomegranate-kitchen
We have had so much love and support along the way and have seen some real changes in the women we work with and the wider Wellington community. We can’t wait to share this next iteration of our purpose with all of our customers and champions, New Zealand-wide.