Jema Shaw recognises that Covid-19 has prompted more than a few lifestyle changes since she graduated with a Bachelor of Culinary Arts from Otago Polytechnic on 13 March – yet some priorities remain clear.

Connecting with whānau and friends has always been a focus for Jema, who says reaching out for support – and supporting others – has helped her navigate the challenges of lockdown.

“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takitini  (my strength is not mine alone, but the due to the strength of others),” Jema says, reciting a Māori proverb.

“No one can survive or succeed in this world on their own. We need support.”

Jema, who became pregnant at the end of her first year of study, says support from her family, friends and Otago Polytechnic lecturers helped significantly as she balanced family life with study.

“It was pretty rewarding to graduate, but it was hard saying goodbye to the Bachelor of Culinary Arts team – the lecturers and groovy classmates. You become so confident in who you are.”

In recent weeks, Jema has been helping others navigate difficult times, continuing a food and wellbeing-focused social media project, as well as contributing to a Te Punaka Ōwheo series of videos aimed at fostering support and connection.

“With food insecurity being a big topic that I focus on, it's been a great opportunity to get some good thinking written down and shared out there. There's a lot of key learnings that people need.

“I have always been passionate about food-related issues. Then at the start of my final-year, self-directed learning project, I read an article about a single woman who lived on her own and had a weekly food budget of just $25 dollars.

“So I approached my lecturers and asked if I could change my project. My goal was to design a meal plan for $25 a week, see how many meals I could make and donate them all into the community. I then documented it on my blog.

“People really took to it. I shared that post on to a few other food-related Facebook groups. The post managed to reach 42,000 people. I was shocked. After that I just continued writing about nutritious food.

Jema says the blogs on her Facebook page Feed me too aim to stimulate others to be resourceful.

“There are no real rules, although the blogs have to be budget-friendly, easy for parents to achieve and easy to read and understand. It’s about giving the readers something to take from each post, something that they can generate their own ideas on.”

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Published on 1 May 2020

Orderdate: 1 May 2020
Expiry: 31 Jul 2022