Apology over cold school lunches served two hours late

A lunch of spaghetti and cheese served to kids at Kaitaia Primary School arrived late on...
A lunch of spaghetti and cheese served to kids at Kaitaia Primary School arrived late on Wednesday, getting there at 2.35pm. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
A Far North primary school blames "teething issues" with its free lunches provider after the meals arrived two hours late - and stone cold.

A concerned Kaitaia Primary parents approached The New Zealand Herald, unimpressed at what was belatedly dished up.

"Our kids went without lunches today, they arrived at 2.35pm and this is what was in them," the parent told the Herald.

The supplied photo shows a small portion of spaghetti in tomato sauce topped with shavings of cheese.

Bell Produce Ltd, which is run by local iwi Te Rarawa, provides 1500 lunches to four schools in the Far North each day, including Kaitaia Primary and Kaitaia College.

Kaitaia Primary principal Brendon Morrissey called Wednesday's late lunch a "hiccup".

"There wasn't much to them [the lunches] as many would hope," Morrissey told the Herald.

However since the programme started at the school on the first day of term 2, Morrissey said, it has been "superb".

"Although there was disappointment about yesterday's lunches, the other days have been awesome.

"Our kids are blimmin' lucky to get those lunches," Morrissey said.

Bells Produce Ltd acknowledged on Facebook the feedback they received on cooked meals and apologised.

"We are sorry cooked kai to schools was delivered late to certain schools across the days."

Retail manager Dion Harrison said they underestimated many things that were necessary to ensure the cooked lunches were of the quality they needed to be.

"We have learned a lot regarding the hot lunches and we will ensure our standards of food quality and timely delivery are better managed."

To make sure the issue doesn't happen again, the company has decided to split hot lunch days over two days. On Wednesdays, Kaitaia College will receive their hot meal and the other three schools will receive their hot meals on Thursdays.

Morrisey welcomed the change, calling it a "smart decision".

"Some of the complaints were about portion sizes and the type of food. While we are working to the Ka Ora Ka Oka guidelines we promise to review the menus and see what we can add or change," the lunch provider said on its Facebook page.

"Every day we are constantly reviewing menus, portion quantities and how we can improve," Harrison said.

The Ka Ora, Ka Ako/Healthy School Lunches Programme includes primary, intermediate and high schools and is not decile-related.

Nearly 15,000 students across the region will have a free healthy school lunches this term, courtesy of the programme.

At first Morrissey was concerned about how students would react to trying new foods, but he told the Herald many of the student's plates were returned empty and many kids were coming back for seconds.


"Our kids are blimmin' lucky to get those lunches," Morrissey said. Yeah, but they were cold and late - how lucky is that?

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter