Some days, Jan Tinetti has to find lunch for one-fifth of the children at her school.
The Merivale School principal was "really upset" to hear the "food in schools" bill was defeated in Parliament on Wednesday evening.
The bill was introduced by Hone Harawira and picked up by Metiria Turei, and provided for state-funded breakfasts and lunches at all decile one and two schools.
Ms Tinetti said some days she needed lunches for up to 30 children - 20 per cent of her school roll of 145 children.
"We're not seeing it get any better. If anything, it's getting worse."
Up to 70 pupils a day were fed breakfasts at school and other organisations including KidsCan and Loaves and Fishes helped with lunches.
Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder said the majority of his school's children came to school with good lunches but if parents did find things "a bit tough" on a particular day, he would request help from Loaves and Fishes. " ... there are some other agencies that pick up the cost of that."
Maketu School principal Sandra Hemopo said her school received food, fruit and milk through separate programmes.
" ... if the bill had gone through, we wouldn't have said no." Loaves and Fishes co-ordinator Jill O'Brien said she and her volunteers delivered about 200 lunches a week to hungry Western Bay children, but this number was a lot less than when she started with the St Vincent de Paul supported project 10 years ago.
"These schools can often get help for breakfast things but it's harder for them to get lunches."
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said that National did not support the bill because it already had a "comprehensive action plan to combat the complex issues that vulnerable children faced". "This bill does not account for the great work already being done by parents and community organisations. This National-led government is already doing a lot to support vulnerable children in this area with schemes ... The Education [Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools] Amendment Bill that the Green Party proposed would be disastrous for schools - their carefully balanced budgets would be blown out with compliance and capital costs."
New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell said the party supported the bill, even though it did not go far enough.
Mr Mitchell said it was important to get data and find out why children were not being fed.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said it was appropriate for the Government to support breakfasts in schools but there needed to be a contribution from everyone.
Another food in schools bill, from Labour's David Shearer was also defeated Wednesday. There were 60 votes for and 60 against meaning it could not progress.
Street View: Do you think the Government should fund breakfasts and lunches for low decile schools?
"At the end of the day, if they aren't getting it at home they've got to get it somewhere."
- Kerry McCormick, 60, Papamoa
"Yeah, I think it's a good idea. Sometimes when you send them to school, they want what the other kids have and won't eat theirs, if they all have the same maybe it would make it easier."
- Kataraina Haura, 28, Mount Maunganui
"Every child is entitled to start the day with nourishing food and if the parents genuinely can't provide that basic responsibility, then it's up to the community to step in."
- Louise Blackford, 50s, Mount Maunganui
"Yes. If they are from a low socio- economic area, the parents possibly can't afford to feed their kids and the kids need a full belly for them to learn and study."
- Stephanie Ellis, 29, Bethlehem
What do you think?