Eat Right, Be Bright is an organisation, born from the efforts of a group of women who shared a common concern for the future of our children. The group grew quickly as word spread as many across Aotearoa saw the same concerns in their own communities. They saw that poverty leads to lack of nutrition and that lack of nutrition directly detracts from childrens’ learning, diminishes childrens’ health and ultimately, limits childrens’ ability to flourish and succeed. The dire social consequences for some children are all too clear in Aotearoa today. The facts are clear, one in four children in New Zealand live in poverty, one in three children are overweight or obese, and one in three children admitted to Starship Hospital are malnourished. Eat Right Be Bright saw that children who receive a nutritious lunch at school each day would gain clear social, educational and health benefits.

From this foundational insight came the development of a group with shared views about child poverty in New Zealand, and the desire to make change to ensure a healthy and happy next generation ready to realise their full potential. Through extensive research and by approaching experts in child education and health, our group has received immense assistance from far and wide – all sharing an understanding of the great benefits of the provision of a healthy lunch for all kids at school. This can only happen if we all play our part: parents, experts, volunteers, legislators, and ultimately central funding from taxpayers. Eat Right Be Bright wishes to encourage discussion, inform debate, support the development of policy and ultimately realise funding. Almost 90% of countries globally offer this support to their children; Aotearoa’s children deserve the right to learn and achieve, and they will do that best with full and happy tummies.

Meet The Team

Clarissa Mackay

Clarissa is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Eat Right Be Bright.  Over the last two years, Clarissa has been a leading voice in advocating for a universal school lunch programme in New Zealand.  She has gained a vast amount of knowledge on the best practices in school food from working with international agencies such as the UN and The World Health Organisation. She has visited international government departments, charities, NGOs and businesses to research the most sustainable and cost effective programmes currently being used across the world.  Clarissa has travelled New Zealand to speak with those charities currently involved in school food to understand how we could tailor an international programme to a New Zealand setting.  Clarissa is dedicated to creating a universal school food programme that is world leading, by using her knowledge of implementation models, policy design and innovative technology. When she is not working on researching and designing a universal school food programme, Clarissa is working with her husband on their Global Financial Research business.

John Hanna

John is Chair of the Eat Right Be Bright Foundation, he is passionate about looking at a systematic approach to breaking intergenerational child poverty. John has had a 40 year career working in the technology industry and is currently CEO of Ultra Fast Fibre. Previously, John was CEO of The Network for Learning Ltd ( N4L), a Schedule 4a, Crown owned company. With the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education as shareholders it was created to build a fully managed digital network specifically designed for New Zealand’s 2500+ schools and to create an environment that encourages the uptake of digital learning.
The initial task was to build a brand new team, migrate interim function from the Ministry of Education, complete a multi year, $200M+ contract negotiation, engage deeply with education agencies and schools and begin design for a new sector wide (2500 location) business grade network along with a content and services digital platform. John achieved the N4L roll out 18 months ahead of ahead of plan, well under budget with extremely high customer satisfaction.

Dr Alexander (Sandy) Brown

Dr Alexander (Sandy) Brown is Chief Executive Officer of Whānau Tahi Ltd, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Thorndon School and a Trustee of Eat Right Be Bright.  He has held a number of roles within the public sector, including Deputy Chief Executive at the Network for Learning, Chief Advisor at the Ministry of Education and Policy Manager at the Ministry of Justice.   Across these roles, he has developed significant experience in strategy, policy, research and modelling, and government relations.  A thread running through his career is a focus on the use of technology to enable better understanding and achievement of social outcomes.  He holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA Hons from the University of Otago. 

Laurie Wharemate-Keung

Laurie is the General Manager and Co-Founder of Feed the Need Trust, where she has volunteered her time and skills for eight years to alleviate food poverty amongst school children.  She led the design and implementation of a universal school food programme providing 285,000 fresh, hot lunches to South Auckland Schools and has recently launched a School Food Pantry Pilot.  Laurie brings with her 11 years of experience in the Māori Public Health Nutrition Sector where she managed the National Nutrition Service for Toi Tangata and also consulted to the sector.  She  has also been the chairperson for Agencies for Nutrition Action and The Obesity Action Coalition as well as held board positions with the Māori Reference Group for Food Safety Australia NZ, Feed the Need Trust and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o ngā Maungarongo.

Prof Bernhard Breier

Bernhard Breier is a board member of the Eat Right Be Bright Foundation. He is also Professor and Chair in Human Nutrition at the College of Health at Massey University. His work has been recognized with the Hamilton Prize of the Royal Society of New Zealand, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and a Principal Research Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Previous appointments include Academic Director at the Liggins Institute, the University of Auckland, and he was a founding member of Gravida, the National Research Centre for Growth and Development.  Professor Breier is internationally recognised for his work on long-term health consequences of nutrition with a focus on metabolic function throughout lifespan. He has published over 200 scientific papers, holds ten international patents, and his H-index is 49. His research programmes bring together nutrition, metabolism and endocrinology, combining basic and applied studies from the cellular level to major human intervention trials. Research themes include taste perception and appetite regulation, the gut microbiome and metabolic health, socio-cultural contexts of food and body size, and pathways to healthy ageing.

Cassie Slade

Cassie Slade is a Co-Founder and board member of Eat Right, Be Bright.  She is currently working as a researcher and studying for her PhD in Human Nutrition at Massey University. Her background in both psychology and human nutrition has given Cassie the knowledge and understanding of the importance of diet in childhood development and how critical good nutrition is to learning. She has also experienced first-hand the positive outcomes of school led intervention programmes while leading an after school programme for children with challenging behavioural needs. While working in Eat Right, Be Bright Cassie has been a strong advocate for the importance of healthy nutrition for learning and imparting knowledge as to why this must be at the forefront of a universal lunch programme.  Through her research and liaising with a variety of the relevant entities in this area she has gained valuable insight into how such a scheme could be implemented in New Zealand and ultimately improve the equity gap for all kiwi kids.