One of KASI’s primary goals is to promote integration of migrants into society, including through employment. For various reasons, access to decent work can be challenging and poses a significant barrier to integration for many people from migrant backgrounds in Ireland.
KASI also believes that food has the power to break down barriers and bring people together, with KASI events regularly centred around the sharing of food. Inspired by this, and seeing the need for affordable meals in local primary schools, as well as the need for improved access to employment for migrants, we thought of setting up this special social enterprise.
School Meals Project
In 2016, we piloted a School Meals Project in St. Oliver’s National School, in Ballycasheen, Killarney. The project provides healthy and affordable food for school pupils, cooked and prepared by mostly migrant kitchen staff, with most of the vegetables used sustainably grown and sourced from our own KASI Community Garden. Three years later, the project was extended to three more schools in Killarney – Gaelscoil Faithleann, The Mon Primary School and Holy Cross Mercy National School.
To date, the social enterprise has enabled over 100 people to access decent work, as well as training and support towards future employment. The Social Enterprise Manager role and three kitchen staff roles are part-funded by the Deptartment of Community and Rural Development, under the Community Services Programme of POBAL. The rest of project staff are paid through income generated from the social enterprise.
The project has also created a space for informal interaction between migrant staff and volunteers, school staff, pupils and parents. In this way, integration is promoted and happens in an ‘organic’ manner. In April 2019, the project’s impact was recognised with a Gold Award at the 2019 Kerry Community Awards.