Thousands of Year 1-8 students will be offered a free and healthy lunch in a new programme being tested in selected schools in three regions; Bay of Plenty/Waiariki, Hawke’s Bay/Tairawhiti and Otago/Southland.
The schools were chosen using the Ministry of Education’s Equity Index, which estimates where children may experience socio-economic disadvantage that could affect their education.
Research indicates that one in five children experience moderate or severe food insecurity. And that, in our most disadvantaged communities, 40 percent of parents run out of food sometimes or often. The free lunch programme is focused on improving child wellbeing by addressing food insecurity and supporting children’s engagement, progress and achievement in their learning.
The programme started in Term 1 this year, and by the beginning of 2021 up to 21,000 students in 120 schools will be eligible for a free lunch. It is targeted towards Year 1-8 students, but older students in participating composite schools (with Years 9-13) will also be included.
The free lunch programme is limited to schools in the three regions so the approach can be tested to understand what is involved, what helps support delivery and the benefits to students’ wellbeing and education. A decision on potential continuation or expansion of the free lunch programme expansion will be made after its two year trial has ended in 2022.
The table below details advice provided that relates to this work.