$1 loaf draws mixed response

Some low-decile schools say fewer children are turning up to school without lunch since supermarkets started offering $1 bread deals.

However, others are not so sure the cut-price bread options have made a difference.

Last month, Countdown cut the price of some brands of white and wheatmeal bread, to $1, which was matched quickly by New World and Pak'nSave.

In Tauranga, Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti said the cut-price deals had made a huge difference to families. The school had noticed a drop in the number of prepared lunches it had to supply for students who had nothing to eat.

The school had also been able to give the bread to less fortunate families, Ms Tinetti said. It provided about 10 lunches each day.

Greerton Village School principal Anne Mackintosh said the $1 bread was having a positive impact, with more children taking sandwiches to school.

"What was so great for us was the Countdown over our back fence brought in excess loaves to us and we were able to give them to our families."

Mrs Mackintosh said there would always be a need for the food programmes.

"For one reason or another there will be kids who can't bring lunches to school, parents might be sick or whatever."

She was not aware of nutritionists' concerns about white bread but said the fillings could assist the health benefits.

In contrast, Pukehina School principal Roger Reid said he had not seen more pupils taking lunches to the decile 3 school.

Children arriving without lunch was not common.

Brookfield School principal Robert Hyndman had also not noticed a change.

The Loaves and Fishes service, which provides food to schools, was continuing as usual, co-ordinator Jill O'Brien said. About 200 lunches a week were delivered to 10 schools in the region.

"That number hasn't gone down since last year," she said.

Through the Society of St Vincent De Paul it was able to provide a savoury and sweet sandwich, a snack and a piece of fruit in each lunch.

Jan Clark, Kids Can GM marketing and fundraising, said it provided food services for six schools in the Tauranga region and had not seen any decrease in the need for the service.

"Our figures show the need is still increasing for our food distributions. This term we're supporting about 20 per cent of the roll on average for our partner schools that need food to alleviate hunger," she said.

- Ruth Keber of the Bay of Plenty Times

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