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Education Leaders Call On PM To Save School Lunch Programme

Aotearoa’s education sector leaders have jointly written to the Prime Minister, urging him to continue investing in Ka ora Ka Ako (the Healthy School Lunches Programme) at current levels.

Leaders of schools, early learning peak bodies and unions say the school lunch programme has significant benefits and any cuts to the lunch programme will take food off children who need it.

"We have high rates of food insecurity among students in our country,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa president Mark Potter, one of the letter signatories.

“We know from direct experience that when students have enough to eat they are better able to concentrate on their learning and there are fewer behaviour issues."

Tute Mila, a principal at Arakura School in Wainuiomata says that cutting the lunches programme would be ‘disastrous’ for her school.

On Monday next week, education leaders will join with health and children's advocates to eat lunch with the students of Arakura School in Wainuiomata to send a resolute message to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to stop cuts to the lunch programme.


Copy of letter to Prime Minister:

Rt Hon Prime Minister Christopher Luxon

Parliament Buildings


cc Hon Erica Stanford, Minister of Education

E te Pirimia

As leaders of the education sector, we jointly urge you to continue the Government’s current level of investment in Ka ora Ka Ako, the school lunches programme.

One in five children in our country live with food poverty. Nutritious food is essential for learning, which is why the school lunch programme was created. It currently offers lunches to 230,000 students in about 1,000 of the least advantaged schools, providing a major safety net against food poverty and poor nutrition.

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Research from the PISA (Program for International Student Achievement) shows that students who miss meals due to lack of money are two to four years behind their peers who never miss meals in terms of their educational achievement. Of concern is that the most recent PISA results found 14 percent of New Zealand students did not eat at least once a week because of lack of money, compared to 8% of students on average across the OECD.

Your Government is committed to improving student achievement and supporting Kiwi families who are facing significant cost of living pressures. The most recent research evaluating the Ka Ora Ka Ako programme reinforces the views of school principals that it has led to students being more focussed on their learning, fewer working to support their families, fewer behavioural problems, improved social bonding and reduced food poverty stigma through all students sharing meals together.

We strongly believe that Ka Ora Ka Ako is a critical investment to make in our students and in their ability to fulfil their potential. We therefore encourage you to maintain the current levels of funding for the programme.


Mark Potter, President | Te Manukura – NZEI Te Riu Roa

Vaughan Couillault, President – Secondary Principals Association of NZ

Chris Abercrombie, Te Amorangi/President – New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association Te Wehengarua

Angela Lowe, President – Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools

Leanne Otene, President – NZ Principals Federation

Lorraine Kerr, President – NZ School Trustees Association | Te Whakarōputanga Kaitiaki Kura o Aotearoa

Bruce Jepsen, Te Manukua – Te Akatea

Louisa Barham, President – NZ Area Schools Association

Dr. Kevin Shore, Chief Executive – New Zealand Catholic Education Office

Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive –Te Rito Maioha | Early Childhood New Zealand

Cathy Wilson Chief Executive / Kaiwhakahaere matua – Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand

Jill Bond, Chief Executive Officer – New Zealand Kindergartens Network

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