Free and healthy lunches in schools

Thousands of Year 1-8 students will be offered a free and healthy lunch in a new programme to be in schools in Term 1, 2020.

The $45 million programme kicks off in around 30 schools in the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay in Term 1 2020 before rolling out to other schools.

Up to 21,000 students in around 120 schools will be eligible for a free lunch by the beginning of 2021. A decision will be made after this about whether to continue or extend the programme.

The two year programme was announced by Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, Jacinda Ardern when launching the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy held at Kaitao Intermediate in Rotorua.

All the schools in the programme have children with high levels of disadvantage, according to the Ministry of Education’s Equity index.

The Index estimates the extent to which each child grows up in socio-economically disadvantaged circumstances that are associated with educational outcomes.

Research indicates that one in five children experience moderate or severe food insecurity. And that, in our most disadvantaged communities, 40 percent of parents run out of food sometimes or often. The free lunch programme is focused on improving child wellbeing by addressing food insecurity and supporting children’s engagement, progress and achievement in their learning.

The free lunch programme is limited, at this stage, because the Government wants to trial what is involved in providing free lunches in a mix of school types and locations. The effects of the programme on students’ wellbeing and education will be evaluated.

A decision will be made whether to continue and extend the free lunch programme after its two year trial has ended.

Free and healthy lunches in schools programme

Wellbeing in education – launch of NZ Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy

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