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70,000 Sign Petition To Keep School Lunches

Contrary to the Associate Minister of Education’s
claims, analysis of Healthy School Lunches Programme – Ka
Ora, Ka Ako assessments has revealed it provides excellent
value for the taxpayer dollar, as a groundswell of public
opposition to Government cuts continues to grow.

petitions against cuts to the programme by Health
Coalition Aotearoa
and the NZ Labour Party have
attracted 70,000 signatures between them as of Thursday
March 28.

Strong evidence backing Ka Ora, Ka Ako was
presented at a webinar by A Better Start – National Science
Challenge and Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) this

“Multiple assessments show the programme is very
good value for public investment, it’s effectively feeding
hungry kids with healthy food, supporting their physical,
mental health, wellbeing and education,” HCA co-chair
Professor Boyd Swinburn said.

“An ERO report out today
calls for national action on disruptive student behaviour
and you have to ask about the possible causes for this –
including food poverty or being ‘hangry’ – a problem
school lunches can address.”

Analysis of the programme
assessments showed a wide range of benefits

– less hunger, particularly for food
insecure ākonga

– better nutrition – ākonga eat more
nutritious food, with more vegetables and less snacks and
sweets eaten.

– provides at least 1/3 of daily
requirements for 78% of the key nutrients children need to

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– improved mental health and wellbeing –
children at Ka Ora, Ka Ako schools reported a 6-14%
improvement in mental health and wellbeing compared to peers
in other schools

– employment – the programme supports
2455 jobs, with more than half full-time and paid the living
wage, involving more than 180 business providers

improved attendance, energy, engagement, attention and
focus, and behaviour of students

Researchers also
pointed to evidence of food poverty for students with data
from the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA) revealing 14.1% of students in Aotearoa are missing
meals due to a lack of money, while the OECD average is

“For ākonga Māori, the situation is even worse
with 1 in 4 missing meals once a week and 1 in 10 missing
meals every day. We owe it to the future of these tamariki
to support them with good nutritional meals that support
their learning and help them to thrive,” Dr Pippa
McKelvie-Sebileau said.

HCA is imploring the
Government to look at the evidence and listen to principals
and children who receive the lunches before making decisions
on funding cuts for Ka Ora, Ka Ako.

Education Minister David Seymour says he can cut funding and
still achieve the same results, but he hasn’t explained
how he will do this,” Professor Swinburn said.

he target lunches only to those children who meet a lower
poverty threshold and then make them wear a badge to show
they are eligible? If so, how will teachers monitor this?
And, what impact will this have on uptake of the programme,
given the stigma this will create? What impact will any cut
to the programme have on economic viability for suppliers,
and how many jobs will be

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