One of KASI’s aim is to promote integration of migrants into society. KASI is aware that one of the main factors to integrate is through employment. But some migrants for various reasons, are finding it difficult to compete or access the labour marker.
KASI believes that food and sharing of food, sitting around and enjoying food breaks down barriers. In fact, food and sharing of food has become an integral part of KASI’s culture as an organization. Most of their meetings start or end with sharing of food. Every end of the programme evaluation, whether successful or not, whether a success or not is celebrated and participants cooked and shared their food. Any other occasions are commemorated with social gatherings of people and a big feast served and shared to everyone. Hence, when we thought of setting up a social enterprise to create employment for Migrants, it has to be something to do with food…
In 2016, we piloted a food/canteen project in St. Oliver’s National School. The idea is to provide a healthy and affordable food for pupils with most of the vegetable ingredients grown and sourced from our own KASI Garden. It was a great success and three years later has been extended to 3 more schools in Killarney – Gailscoil Faithleann, The Mon Primary School and Holy Cross Mercy National School. To date the social enterprise created 13 employments; three of the staff and a Manager is part funded by the Dept. of Community and Rural Development under the Community Services Programme of POBAL and the rest of the staff are paid through income generated from the social enterprise.
The project has also created a space for that informal interaction between migrant staff and volunteers, school staff, pupils and parents; hence, integration is promoted and happened in an ‘organic’ manner. In April 2019, the project won a Gold Award during the 2019 Kerry Community Awards Ceremony.