School lunches revamp causing headaches

Kaiapoi Borough School children give the thumbs up to the Healthy School Lunches Programme. Photo...
Kaiapoi Borough School children give the thumbs up to the Healthy School Lunches Programme. Photo: Supplied by Kaiapoi Borough School
Changes to the free school lunches programme could create headaches for three Canterbury schools, including a kura which has no kitchen to prepare food for its senior students.

Te Kura o Tuahiwi, Kaiapoi Borough School and the Karanga Mai Young Parents’ College will continue to receive free school lunches next year, but the revised programme is set to be more complex, the principals say.

While year 1 to 6 students will continue under the same scheme, year 7 to 13 students will be funded differently.

Schools will need to order food weekly with a $3 per student budget and prepare the food onsite.

The Government is predicting the change will save $107 million from the Ka Ora, Ka Ako / healthy school lunches programme from next year.

All three Waimakariri schools support a local business, Lazy Lunches, which provides a range of nutritious meals from bread rolls to hot chicken with rice, or pizza on pita bread.

Kaiapoi Borough School and Te Kura o Tuahiwi are both year 1 to 8 schools, so will likely need to run both schemes.

Te Kura o Tuahiwi principal Dot Singh said the school had no kitchen and she was unsure how it would prepare lunches for its year 7/8 students.

‘‘I need to know what the food is because we don’t have the facilities to cater for it or a person to do it.’’

At this stage there was no funding for the food preparation, so either an existing staff member or whānau may need to volunteer their time.

Kaiapoi Borough School principal Hayden van Lent said he was waiting to see what the changes would mean for his school.

‘‘I am grateful that we have not completely lost the lunch in schools programme and the Ministry will be continuing with most of what is currently in place.

‘‘It makes a real difference for our tamariki, whānau and community.

‘‘We won't know what it will mean for our year 7/8s until September when the Ministry has completed the procurement process.’’

Karanga Mai Young Parents’ College has up to 20 high school students with young children on its roll.

Director Ruth Robertson said she was unsure how the new system would work at the college.

‘‘Our young mums have limited incomes so they tend to prioritise their young ones, with the cost of buying nappies and formula.

‘‘They often haven’t eaten in the morning, so having a healthy lunch makes a big difference, and a number of them are breast-feeding.’’

She said research has shown the importance of good nutrition for young people when learning.

Kaikōura’s Te Kura o Hāpuku, a year 1 to 6 Māori immersion school with around 16 students, is also part of the programme.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.