Free lunches served up to thousands of school children in the South Island

The Government’s free and healthy school lunches programme moves south for the first time creating jobs for around 30 people in Otago and Southland.

“Eighteen schools with 3000 students are joining the programme – 11 have already begun serving lunches, and seven are preparing to start during Term 3. This is on top of the 42 schools already taking part,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“No one wants to see children go hungry, and a full stomach makes all the difference to a child’s learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has added urgency to support like this. 

“The programme provides lunches to all students in schools taking part, and is being rolled out in stages. It was hugely expanded in the Budget this year to see around 200,000 more children get a free lunch by the end of 2021.

“Initial feedback about free and healthy lunches has been incredibly positive, with schools reporting improvements in students’ focus in the classroom, learning, behaviour and attendance. The programme is also a way of creating local jobs.

“Several schools already taking part in the programme have employed whānau to help make and distribute lunches on school sites. In some areas, locals have been employed by regionally based suppliers providing lunches.

“It’s a win-win for the students and the community,” Chris Hipkins said.