School's back and as classrooms fill up I for one am glad that in 44 primary and secondary schools across Hawke's Bay bellies will be full with free school lunches.
I know many people say it's the responsibility of the parents to feed their children, but the free lunches are not about the parents — they are about the children ... children who can't change what's going on in their home.
If it means that just one child goes to bed a night with food in their stomach, then I'm happy.
Yes, there is no denying that some parents either can't be bothered to make school lunches or perhaps spent their income on unnecessary items.
However, there are so many families out there struggling to make ends meet and with the price of rent these days, it's no wonder.
Something must give. People have to pay their rent otherwise they don't have a roof over their heads, they have to pay power bills, they have to pay any number of unexpected bills.
But when it comes to food there are ways to cut back. No luxuries, cheapest brands and that's fine. But when your back is to the wall and there is no other way to pay the rent all food becomes a luxury and that is so sad.
When everyone had big backyards with gardens people could at least have fresh fruit and vegetables but these days most backyards are tiny with barely room for kids to play let alone a garden.
When the list of schools to receive free lunches in Hawke's Bay was released late last year, I heard some grumbles about it including high schools.
Some people said high school students should be able to make their own lunches. But how can they do that when there is no food in the house. Just because they are older doesn't mean they can fend for themselves.
I was talking to someone who is involved in providing free school lunches for high school students at the end of the year and they said not only did they feel privileged to be part of a team feeding these children, but they just loved to see the way the students reacted.
They said the best thing about it was that no one was singled out. Everyone had the same opportunity to receive a free lunch. That's really the only way to do it, otherwise those who really need it the most, likely wouldn't take the opportunity for fear of being singled out.
Teenagers especially like to be part of the crowd. They don't want their peers thinking, or worse saying, their parents can't afford food.
They said that some people think the free lunches were a way of lifting responsibility from the shoulders of the parents / care givers and is some ways it was. However, they said that was irrelevant because the long term goal was the health benefits for the students.
The programme is not just about free food. It's about giving every child at the school an opportunity to have a full belly and therefore be able to concentrate and learn.
It means that instead of thinking about how hungry they are they can listen to what's happening in the classroom.
It means that they are happier and healthier. They have more energy to play with their friends, laugh and act like a child should at interval.
I wish we could feed all the hungry children in the world but that's not possible — yet. At least we are making a fantastic start right here in Hawke's Bay.
*Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.