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School lunches cut to $3

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A new government budget cut for school lunches has raised concerns about the healthiness of the meals.

The Government has revealed it is cutting $107 million from the school lunches programme while also extending the number of children who will get free meals.

The budget for the Ka Ora, Ka Ako school lunch program has been reduced from $8.62 to $3 per meal for intermediate and secondary school students, affecting 150,000 students.

All 235,000 students at low and middle-income schools currently receiving free lunches under the Ka Ora, Ka Ako scheme will continue to receive them.

Associate Education Minister David Seymour believes large catering companies can supply meals cheaply in bulk.

The benefits of the current lunch program are evident, with students calmer and fewer behavioral issues reported. The program also encourages students to sit and eat together without distractions like phones.

Whanganui Girls’ College, which prepares up to 900 lunches daily, offers hot meals like macaroni cheese and beef nachos alongside sandwiches and wraps. Principal Nita Pond worries the budget cut will lead to more pre-packaged, less healthy food items. She fears schools with external suppliers will see an increase in items like muesli bars and yogurt, which might not meet the Ministry of Education’s Healthy School Lunches criteria.

The Ministry of Education is hosting webinars to explain the new model, which will start next year.

KidsCan, a charity providing $2 meals to nearly 6,000 children daily, highlighted its ability to deliver cost-effective meals due to strong supplier relationships and no profit motive.

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