Thursday, May 23, 2024

Govt to serve up new school lunches programme

Associate Education Minister, David Seymour, has today announced a revamped Healthy School Lunches Programme that he says will save taxpayers around $107 million annually compared to the previous programme.

Mr Seymour said the savings will fund a new targeted programme will provide food to 10,000 two-to-five-year-olds who attend low-equity, not-for-profit, community-based early learning services.

“We are delivering on our commitment to treat taxpayers’ money with respect,” the Minister said.

“All students currently receiving a lunch through the programme will continue to receive a lunch at school for significantly less cost to taxpayers.

“The Healthy School Lunches Programme will continue, alongside a new targeted programme for up to 10,000 two-to-five-year-olds in early learning services.”

Budget 2024 provides $478 million of funding for the school lunches programme.

Minister Seymour said funding will cover an interim model for 2025 and 2026 while a full redesign of the programme is implemented, based on commercial experience, data, and evidence. 

“In the meantime, there will be no change to the school lunch programme for primary learners in years 0 to 6 that currently receive a taxpayer-funded lunch. An alternative provision model will be established for years 7 and up.”

“The alternate provision model will use the government’s significant buying power to save money on food, give schools more flexibility on what they provide, and significantly reduce wastage. It also means parents and students can choose to make their own lunch.  

“Because of the fiscal cliff left by the previous government, we have had to fund an interim solution for 2025 and 2026 in an environment of extreme fiscal restraint to ensure we do not leave children and their families in the lurch.”

Students at schools receiving taxpayer-funded lunches will also continue to be supported by the Kickstart Breakfast and Fruit in Schools programmes, the Minister said.

For the remainder of 2024, the school lunches programme will remain in place with all current contracts and commitments honoured.

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