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Sign the petition to support the free school lunches programme

Wednesday, March 13, 2024   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: child health, nutrition, education, petition, wellbeing

Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) has launched a petition calling on the Government not to cut the free school lunches programme – Ka Ora, Ka Ako.

Associate Education Minister and ACT leader David Seymour is reviewing the free school lunches programme ahead of Budget 2024 in May and has stated he wants to cut the programme by up to 50 per cent.

HCA says cuts to the programme would disproportionately affect Māori ākonga/students who have the highest rates of food insecurity with one in three affected. This is compared to one in five of all children, according to the latest NZ Health Survey data released last year.

"Because more than half of the students receiving lunches are Māori these cuts would hit them the hardest," says HCA Co-Chair Dr Lisa Morenga.

Sign the petition to stop cuts to the free school lunches programme (Action Station).

Why free school lunches are important

Schools are a place where kids go to learn, connect, and grow. But they can’t do this if they are hungry. Poor nutrition is not limited to kids in food poverty, with only 5 per cent of children aged 0-14 years getting the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables per day.

Nutritious food is essential for learning but many kids are missing out on this. This is why Ka Ora, Ka Ako - the school lunch programme was created. It currently offers 230,000 students in about 1,000 of the least advantaged schools lunches, and is a major safety net against food poverty and poor nutrition.

If the Government chooses to remove the programme from schools then it would rob students of their potential and we all lose from the missed contribution they can make to our communities.

Research from the Program for International Student Achievement (PISA) shows that students who miss meals due to lack of money are two to four years behind their peers who never miss meals in educational achievement.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has said his Government is focused on enhancing school achievement. Cutting school lunches goes against this - and will instead reduce school achievement.

Parents of children at schools with free lunches told researchers the lunches helped reduce their grocery bill, increased financial security and helped change their child’s food choices - towards healthier options.