Thousands of nutritious meals from New Zealand-owned food company and essential service Jess’s Underground Kitchen (JUK) are being donated to hospital care staff who have been working on the frontline amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is being organised by KiwiSaver provider Fisher Funds who will arrange for frozen food packages to be delivered to the homes of nurses, health care assistants, orderlies, cleaners and ward clerks across the North Island to say thank you for their hard work as New Zealand comes into its third week of alert level 4 lockdown.

The first 1,000 hospital care staff to register will receive a care package of three ready-to-heat JUK meals, delivered by Freightways. 

Fisher Funds Chief Investment Officer Frank Jasper says that while supermarkets are offering special privileges to emergency services and medical staff, many shift workers are still finding it difficult to get there or secure an online delivery window. 

“We wanted to do something to say thank you to those people who are doing a tremendous job - nurses and other hospital care staff are continuing to put themselves at risk by keeping hospitals running,” explained Jasper.

“We know it’s hard for nurses, health care assistants and ward clerks to juggle shift work with the lockdown restrictions and getting a nutritious meal so we’re making a small gesture to ease that pressure. By working with JUK, a small but formidable local business, we’re able to deliver food right to their door.”

JUK owner and operator Jess Daniell said she is proud to partner with Fisher Funds on the project, especially as the issue is one that hits close to home for her.

“Everyone knows a brave someone at the coalface and our team is no different. I have friends, family members and customers who have been on the frontline from the very beginning of the crisis,” Daniell noted. “We were honoured when Fisher Funds approached us and knew immediately that we wanted to be involved.”

Starting out of Daniell’s home, JUK has grown to include a delivery service, four store locations and supermarket supply of home cooking in ready-to-heat meals.

“The JUK success story is an example of everything we look for in an investment - a great business idea, sound management and Kiwi hard work.  We knew the company would be the perfect partner to see our idea come to fruition,” said Jasper.

“This is one small gesture from us that will hopefully help lighten the load for a thousand people during this tough time. We’ve seen a few companies doing their bit to help in this crisis and we encourage more to do the same.” 

Key information about the initiative:

  • Eligible frontline health workers will be able to apply for home delivery food packages from 9am Thursday 9th April via the website
  • Each bundle comprises three pre-prepared frozen meals
  • People will be asked to confirm their role and place of work to redeem
  • Established on a first come first serve basis with the campaign capped after the first 1,000 eligible applicants
  • Due to frozen package delivery limitations, bundles are restricted to those situated in the North Island. Fisher Funds is investigating viable options to extend this but did not wish to delay the launch