Thousands of children have begun receiving a free lunch on every day of the school week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
The Government’s free and healthy school lunch programme is under way for 7,000 students at 31 schools in Hawke’s Bay / Tairāwhiti and Bay of Plenty / Waiariki, extending to 21,000 students in 120 schools, including Otago / Southland, by the start of 2021.
The Prime Minister is serving up lunch today at Flaxmere Primary in Hawke’s Bay with Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
“A full stomach makes all the difference to a child’s learning,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“We are making good progress on tackling the long-term challenges that cause child poverty but none of the solutions are instant. Providing a free and healthy lunch at school is one way to help make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child and to make that difference immediately.
“As we’ve seen at Flaxmere Primary, providing these lunches has also led to jobs for local families,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Most schools have selected external suppliers to provide their lunches, with five opting to prepare their own lunches.
“The model used by Flaxmere Primary involves whānau as key players in the design and delivery of its lunch programme,” Chris Hipkins said.
“All schools in this first tranche have worked hard to meet the requirements of the pilot and their insight will help to inform the ongoing rollout of free lunches in schools,” Chris Hipkins said.
The free and healthy school lunches programme is one of 75 initiatives from New Zealand’s Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy launched last year, which was developed with input from 10,000 New Zealanders including 6,000 young people.
Reducing child poverty is a key goal of this Government and the $5.5 billion Families Package and initiatives in the Wellbeing Budget are expected to raise 50,000-74,000 children out of poverty.
Flaxmere Primary also has a free stationery scheme, received $321,552 from the Government’s School Investment Package, has signed up to the Government’s School Donations Scheme and this year will have on-site one of the 600 new Learning Support Coordinators.
Notes to editor
Every student at Flaxmere Primary receives a free lunch.
Local supplier Pure Catering produces 460 lunches offsite each week day, and families are employed by the company to pack them into school lunch boxes (to reduce waste) and to clean up afterwards.
All schools and suppliers must meet food safety, packaging, waste management, and nutritional guidelines.
The two-year pilot is focused on schools with Years 1-8 students, but in those schools that have Years 9-15 students it extends to them too.
See here for the list of schools that are providing lunches. Some schools are finalising their plans and will not provide comment to media until their programmes are up and running. The names of these schools will be added to the list as their programmes commence.