More school lunches for learners

A major expansion of the free and healthy school lunch programme to around 200,000 students is included in the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The expansion will build on the current phased roll out, which is currently providing daily lunches to 8000 mainly Year 1-8 students, and is on track to deliver free healthy school lunches for up to 21,000 students by the beginning of 2021.

The expansion of the programme will mean that around 200,000 students will receive a lunch in schools with the highest disadvantage. It is also being extended to include secondary schools, including in the areas where the existing programme is being rolled out.  

The programme targets schools facing the greatest socio-economic barriers, meaning it provides additional support to those kids and families who need it most.

$216.7 million in operating and $3.9 million in capital expenditure has been allocated over the next two years to fund the expansion.

The scale of expansion means work is needed over Term 3 2020, to prepare and scale up, including hiring local people and building systems and processes that reduce compliance costs on providers. Following this preparatory work, the expanded programme is due to be rolled out from Term 4 this year. 

Expanding the programme is also expected to create around 2,000 jobs in local communities.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin said that providing the lunches had a direct benefit to the children and their local communities.

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