Angela Howell (left) and Nickee Blucher with their sushi and gingerbread men bound for Dunedin schools. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Sushi 4 Schools is more than just a business for Dunedin
mothers Nickee Blucher and Angela Howell - it is a passion.
The two women came up with the innovative idea late last
year, in response to a lack of healthy school lunch options.
Both with school-aged children, they found getting
nutritional lunches that the children would eat "a bit of a
hassle", Mrs Blucher said.
Ms Howell was already making sushi in the mornings for her
own children, while Mrs Blucher was making it in the canteen
at St Hilda's Collegiate.
They conceived the idea of orders being made in the morning,
with the sushi arriving in time for the school lunch break.
A pilot programme, involving three schools, was launched in
February this year and those schools involved were
The women were overwhelmed by the response and they realised
the only way to grow was to get more schools involved.
They now deliver sushi to more than 30 schools in the Dunedin
A Ninja Man gingerbread biscuit was also on the menu.
The pair, who are also directors of Goddess Catering, decided
they could not develop the sushi business and also run the St
Hilda's canteen, so they gave notice at the school.
To increase sales and production, they moved into a much
larger commercial kitchen at the Kaikorai Rugby Football
The Lynn St premises had a great kitchen and it was also a
central location, Ms Howell said.
The two women can be found there every school morning, making
It worked well with their schedule.
Once the deliveries were made and the kitchen cleaned up,
they were "done for the day".
They also had school holidays off so it fitted in well with
their lifestyles, Ms Howell said.
While ultimately, they would love to expand the business to
other centres, they were very aware that they needed to have
the model "completely right".
Making a mistake potentially resulted in a hungry child at
lunchtime and that was "unthinkable" so they had to ensure
the model was "100% robust", she said.
Schools either phoned or emailed orders by 9.30am each day
and it was then very busy as they worked out the production
totals, made the sushi and delivered it. One staff member was
They mostly supplied primary and intermediate schools, along
with Bayfield High School and Columba College.
The pair's backgrounds were very different.
Mrs Blucher was a qualified social worker who changed career
in 2010 to run the St Hilda's canteen, while Ms Howell
returned to Dunedin last year after 19 years living overseas.
She set up a technology marketing company in England,
employing 60 staff, which she sold three and a-half years
Moving back to Dunedin was a "complete change of pace".
She wanted to be involved in a business that meant something
to her and it was "incredibly satisfying".
Children loved the sushi and the two women often received
emails from parents thanking them. Some children also bought
sushi to take home for their parents, and teachers were also
among their customers.
The women were looking at rolling it out to workplaces soon,
with a pilot planned in Port Chalmers.