Ka Ora Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches: interim report

The interim evaluation report of the Ka Ora Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches Programme was commissioned to help the Ministry of Education assess the early impact of the pilot programme based on the priority outcomes of food availability, consumption, hunger reduction, wellbeing, and attendance.

The report notes that the pilot programme ‘often achieved more than what was expected in the initial two to three months,’ and that benefits were ‘greater‘ for the most disadvantaged learners.

The report says the pilot also showed ‘very good progress towards addressing hunger’, as well as ‘progress towards improving wellbeing'.

Report summary

The report says the pilot showed:

  • ‘large benefits’ for all primary and intermediate learners in respect of the types of food available and consumed
  • ‘large gains’ in fullness for learners who previously had insufficient food, with these learners, on average, feeling an 20% fuller after lunch than before the programme
  • ‘large gains’ in mental wellbeing by the most disadvantaged learners
  • a statistically significant reduction in the proportion of learners with low health quality of life
  • ‘small but significant’ improvements for learners, on average, in terms of their overall heath quality of life, as well as in their physical and emotional functioning.

Evidence for the evaluation included learner food diaries over two one-week periods from 2,729 learners in 129 classes across 38 schools; lunch photos collected from a selection of classes in 128 schools; focus groups with school staff in nine schools and attendance data from 87 schools.

It was undertaken during the Covide-19 pandemic limiting data collection as the pilot programme was suspended over the national lockdown period.

The New Zealand Healthy School Lunch pilot was announced in 2019 and delivered throughout 2020 as part of the Government’s Child Youth and Wellbeing Strategy.

The programme targets schools and kura with the highest concentration of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing lunches to all learners within the school, free of cost on a daily basis.

There are now 960 schools with around 215,000 students receiving free and healthy lunches.

New Zealand Healthy School Lunch pilot | Ka Ora, Ka Ako Interim Evaluation [PDF, 14 MB]

New Zealand Healthy School Lunch pilot | Ka Ora, Ka Ako Evaluation appendices and technical report [PDF, 12 MB]


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