An additional 88,000 students in 322 schools and kura across the country have started the school year with a regular lunch on the menu, thanks to the Government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches programme.
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.
“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,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches helps our children to be the best they can be.”
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%) 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,” Mr Hipkins said.
“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.
“Over 942 jobs have already been generated by the programme and it is 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.”