Recommended Sponsor - Buy Original Artwork Directly from the Artist

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

The Government knew its changes to the school lunch programme would risk achievement, attendance, nutrition and wellbeing of New Zealand children, as well as having wider impacts on reducing child poverty, and made the changes anyway, new documents show.

On 27 March, the Government considered a Cabinet Paper which included advice from multiple agencies with concerns about plans to cut back the school lunch programme. It included:

  • The Ministry of Health said “…the current proposal does not appear to be grounded in public health evidence and are concerned it will have a significant negative impact on communities where Ka Ora, Ka Ako is having the greatest impact.”
  • Te Puni Kokiri notes “risks to learner achievement should the nutritional value of food delivered to secondary learners reduce.” 
  • Oranga Tamariki did not support the changes, saying the current programme “has strong links to educational attainment and attendance, as well as wider impacts to alleviate child poverty.”

“The Ministry of Education also makes clear what we already knew, that $3 a day is not sufficient to feed secondary kids properly. The changes the Government has made will see students getting a snack rather than a healthy meal,” Labour education spokesperson Jan Tinetti said.

“David Seymour was gunning for the scrapping of the programme. He didn’t get his way, so instead he is stripping $107 million out and setting it up to fail.

“The Cabinet Paper from 27 March includes advice from various agencies, including strong opposition to parring back the programme. But they chose to do it anyway.

“It’s baffling to understand why the Government went ahead with these changes, given the evidence in front of them and all of their talk about improving attendance. A full tummy can make a difference to a student’s learning and whether they are turning up to school.

“Taking good, healthy food out of the mouths of students in years seven and up, which are some of the most challenging school years, will only see worse outcomes for many young people. 

“This is about choices. Cutting $107 million from school lunches, whilst giving $2.9 billion to landlords will not sit right with many New Zealanders.   

“Concerns have also been raised about communities losing local jobs, some of which are done by parents. With unemployment set to rise, this could be a double whammy for household budgets during a cost-of-living crisis. 

“This newly released advice clearly shows the consequences of cutting the healthy lunch programme. It’s unfathomable that with the evidence in front of him, Christopher Luxon signed off on this Cabinet paper,” Jan Tinetti said.

Click here to sign the petition to save school lunches.

Stay in the loop by signing up to our mailing list and following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter