Voices of Tomorrow: Kaitoke School Students Advocate for Continued School Lunches on Great Barrier Island. Video / AoteaTV

Students Stand Up for School Lunches

Voices of Tomorrow: Kaitoke School Students Advocate for Continued School Lunches on Great Barrier Island. Video / AoteaTV

In a heartfelt video appeal titled ‘Food For Thought,’ Kaitoke School students directly address government Minister David Seymour, advocating for the continuation of their school lunch programme while underscoring its significance on their education and well-being.

The video, which features personal testimonials from students such as Elijah, Tom, and Kora, was posted by Kathy Cumming, a former speechwriter for ex-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The initiative comes amid ongoing discussions around New Zealand’s school lunch programme, Ka Ora, Ka Ako, which is currently under government review.

Elijah, a student in the video, shares, “At Kaitoke School we love school lunch. After lunch, I feel full and I feel like I’m ready to learn.” This sentiment is echoed by Tom who highlights the economic strain of providing daily lunches on the island: “Without school lunches my mum has to make three lunches a day. She doesn’t make the best lunch. Especially because of how expensive food is on the island.”

The Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme, funded by surplus Covid-19 response money, is hailed for providing lunches to over 220,000 students across the country. Proponents say it’s vital for communities like Great Barrier where the cost of living is high and median incomes are some of the lowest in Auckland. The programme’s universal approach aims to eliminate stigma and peer pressure by ensuring that every child at participating schools receives a lunch.

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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has affirmed a commitment to continue the programme but emphasized the need for increased efficiency. A review led by Act leader David Seymour aims to ensure that the benefits justify the expenditure.

Kora, another young advocate, stresses the community aspect of shared meals: “We eat together on tables and I think it might be a bit better for us and our social abilities. It fills me up for the day.”

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Studies show school lunch programmes contribute significantly to better attendance, improved academic performance, and enhanced well-being among students. The review which includes figuring out how to streamline the programme while still reaching the most children possible, reflects a broader reassessment of how best to allocate educational resources.


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