Media Releases

Ongoing lunches a win, but teacher and whānau involvement still needed

08 May 2024

NZEI Te Riu Roa, the union for educators across Aotearoa, welcomes the news that Ka Ora, Ka Ako, the Healthy School Lunches Programme will continue, but wants to make sure teachers, whānau and students have a voice in its eventual redesign.

The union’s president, Mark Potter, says it's positive news that school lunches will continue, and that younger children attending community early childhood education services will also benefit.

“It’s heartening to see the Government has listened to the voices of educators and community members who turned out to protect and speak up for the school lunch programme – principals, kaiako (teachers), kaimahi (staff), ākonga (students), whānau, and the wider community.

“As for the redesign of the lunch programme, it’s vital that these same voices are included in that process. It cannot be a one-size-fits all approach dictated by commercial imperatives rather than those who know what’s really needed on the ground.

“The best practice model in the current programme appears to be in-school catering where there is the opportunity to build learning into the programme and catering staff are integrated into the school community, with the ritual of students eating together promoting social cohesion and positive behaviour.”

Potter says any extension of the programme to more children was also welcome, however it should not be at the expense of other students missing out.

“It appears the Government is cutting an important contribution to the health and learning of students in years 7-13, by introducing a targeted approach for this age group which we know can create social stigma for students opting to receive a school lunch.”