Eden Park has signalled its commitment to social responsibility after allowing The Cookie Project, an enterprise that offers employment opportunities to New Zealanders with disabilities, to open a kitchen at the national stadium.

The enterprise, which bakes and sells hand-made cookies, was left without a premises earlier this year due to the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown.

The Cookie Project products will be available for purchase at the Auckland stadium’s Entry G Reception, and will soon be available for purchase at selected Eden Park fixtures and events, as well as through the online store.

Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner said the opportunity to welcome The Cookie Project to the stadium aligns with the organisation’s ongoing community values.

“Eden Park is committed to being an inclusive venue for Auckland and New Zealand and community is at the core of our Game Plan,” said Sautner.

“Our economy needs to support small businesses and Eden Park can play a key role, both socially and economically, in rebuilding communities and providing lasting memories.

“This partnership showcases the ability to leverage brands for good and utilise idle capacity to benefit all Kiwis. Meeting the faces behind The Cookie Project, and witnessing how they benefit from employment, proves the success and heart behind this genuine feel-good story. Their cookies are a welcome addition in my office!”

Founded in 2018, The Cookie Project provides meaningful employment to Kiwis with disabilities by hand making cookies and paying at least the adult minimum wage of $18.90 an hour. Since its inception, over 2,400 hours of employment has been generated.

Co-founder and chief executive at The Cookie Project, Eric Chuah, said the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown left the social enterprise without access to a safe premises for its employees to bake from.

“A week before we were scheduled to move in to a new commercial kitchen, the landowners were spooked out of the lease due to the second lockdown resurgence. This took a massive mental toll on the whole team, including our bakers,” Chuah said.

“After reaching out on social media for urgent assistance, the warm-hearted team at Eden Park connected with us and within ten days we had a new home.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the lifeline they’ve given us and our bakers – we’re now gearing up to prepare for the festive trading season with our 2020 Christmas Cookie Bundle.

This wouldn’t have been possible without Eden Park’s support to create a more diverse and inclusive Aotearoa.”