Whangarei's Food for Life Centre is extending its programme to provide hot lunches to five schools in the district.
The centre, run by Whangarei's Hare Krishna community, started providing a free lunch once a week to 190 pupils at Manaia View School, in Raumanga, in October 2012 and extended the service to 120 students at Te Kura O Otangarei the following month.
Last year the centre received a $35,000 grant to upgrade its kitchen and centre co-ordinator Buddhi Wilcox said three new schools - Totara Grove Primary, with 320 students; Tikipunga High School with 250 kids and Ruakaka Primary with 150 kids - will start getting a free, hot, vegetarian lunch from the start of the next school term in May.
"For Food for Life it means we will be cooking and preparing meals for five schools every week for a total of over 1000 students," Mr Wilcox said. "There is considerable cost involved to do this and we are appealing to the community for donations of any fruit and vegetables and, of course, cash donations are also welcome - $15 a month will provide meals for three children for a school term.
"We also need volunteers to help with meal preparation."
He said one of the aims of the free lunches once a week was to show healthy food could be provided en masse cheaply.
"Many Third World countries provide meals for their schoolchildren every day, so why can't New Zealand? In India there are [Food For Life] canteens that feed 65,000 to 100,000 children every day, and the Indian Government subsidises it by 50 per cent. We can do that here," Mr Wilcox said.
Anybody wanting to help provide the free school lunches can contact Mr Wilcox on 022 121 8908 or buddhi - firstname.lastname@example.org.