Budget funding for food in schools yet to be decided

By Kate Shuttleworth

File Photo / NZ Herald
File Photo / NZ Herald

It is yet to be decided whether Budget 2013 will provide additional money on food in schools programmes.

Last year an expert advisory group created by the Children's Commissioner recommended that all low-decile schools offer pupils free food in an immediate effort to tackle child poverty.

When asked today if Budget 2013 would make provision for more funding for food in schools programmes, Prime Minister John Key said he couldn't rule it in or out. "There is some merit, obviously, for food in schools - the Government has been supporting that in terms of a number of programmes."

Mr Key hinted the issue would be considered alongside Cabinet deciding on Tuesday if it would support Mana Party leader Hone Harawira's Education (Breakfast and Lunch in Schools) Amendment Bill.

Mr Harawira's bill would introduce a state-funded food in schools programme, making meals available for all students in decile one to three primary and intermediate schools.

If passed, the bill would provide eligible schools with the chance to opt in for assistance from a designated food provider.

More than 20 community organisations have launched a campaign urging all political parties to support the bill.

Mr Key said he wasn't convinced there was a need to legislate for food in schools.

He said the Government had already shown support for food in schools, saying it had extended fruit in schools, supported Fonterra's Milk in Schools programme and given money to KidsCan.

Mr Harawira's bill would not solve all of the issues around children going hungry in schools, Mr Key said.

"The problems are much more widespread and deep-seated than that."

- APNZ

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