Another 88,000 children to get free school lunches
An additional 88,000 students in 322 schools and kura across the country are starting the school year with a regular lunch on the menu, thanks to the Government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches programme.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins made the announcement during a visit to Welcome Bay School this morning.
He says it helps the children be the best they can be.
“The start of the school year can be an expensive time for families with a lot of additional costs. Providing a daily nutritious lunch is one way we can help ease pressure on the household budget and ensure our tamariki don’t miss out on learning because they’re hungry.”
They join 42,000 students already receiving weekday lunches under the scheme, which launched last year to help tackle child poverty, improve youth wellbeing and learning and boost local economies.
Principal of Welcome Bay School Jamie De La Haye says it improves attendance and helps broaden the children’s food.
“To be honest it’s been a game changer. We can see the difference that it makes.”
According to Jamie one mother that has 4 children attending the school says it means she saves a lot of time in the morning.
The meals are on a 10-day rotation, and cater for gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian.
Hipkins says teachers giving the food out can also help the bond between the teachers and children.
Any additional food can then be taken home by the children or donated to local food charities to feed the wider community.
Assistant Principal Katreena Daniels says it’s one less battle for the parents.
Since the programme started in February 2020, it has served up over three million lunches, and reached double its target number of students in the first year.
By the end of 2021, 964 schools and kura, and over 215,000 (25 percent) of Year 1-13 students across New Zealand will be receiving free lunches.
The expansion is part of the Government’s COVID-19 response.
“Growing the programme now further supports families to meet their living costs, and provides an economic boost throughout the whole community, employing local people and spending in local economies,” says Hipkins.
“School lunches impact the whole supply chain, from local growers, to delivery drivers, to the local businesses and community organisations that are preparing lunches and supplying schools.”
He says 942 jobs have already been generated by the programme and it’s estimated that around 2,000 jobs will be created by the end of 2021.
“The programme has been a huge success and we’re excited to roll it out further.”
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