Eat My Lunch

Lunches with a side of charity

In the 2010s New Zealand was struggling with an excessive amount of child poverty. Kids were going to school without lunches and sometimes not going to school at all due to the embarrassment of not having a packed lunch.

Eat My Lunch was a simple concept aimed predominantly at CBD office workers. For every lunch you buy the company would provide a packed lunch to a child at a school that took part in the program.

The idea was a huge success and lunch orders and subscriptions grew wildly. The company needed a website that could keep up and handle thousands of lunches every day – but this is a small socially responsible company – an expensive ERP system was out of the question. We combined WordPress, Woocommerce, a custom payment gateway plugin and a custom subscription management plugin on cloud infrastructure with WordPress scaling to handle high levels of traffic and short turn-around times. Minimum order to fulfilment time went from 2 weeks to 2 days.

The main enabler here was a custom plugin between the woocommerce order system and vWork logistical planning system APIs. Every day in the early morning the system sent all the lunches for the day with all addresses to the logistical route planning system along with projected number of drivers and start/end locations. All routes were optimised and sent back to the system. In fact the system was so fast there were no technical barriers to someone placing a same day order – the only limitation being one of kitchen stock.

Tragically, when Covid-19 hit and everybody adjusted to working from home instead of grouped together in office buildings in small geographic locations the model stopped working and the company couldn’t survive. But by this stage the Ministry of Education’s Ka Ora, Ka ako program had been set up which now provides lunches to over 230,000 school kids daily.

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