The proof will be in the pudding, but Horowhenua secondary school principals are hoping a free lunch initiative will boost attendance and increase learning capabilities in students.
Three secondary schools in Horowhenua - Horowhenua, Waiopehu and Manawatū College - were all rolling out the free meal programme introduced by the Ministry of Education this year.
Schools were either using in-house providers or contractors to provide the meals, which varied each day and were based on healthy recipes that so far included fruit, tacos, pulled pork, and chicken wraps among some of the meals.
Horowhenua College principal Grant Congdon said it had the potential to have a massive impact on the education system.
"It's a game changer," he said.
Congdon said he was interested to see if attendance figures rise as a result of the new initiative, and suspected they would. He was also interested to see if would have a direct impact on overall academic performance.
He was diplomatic when asked if hunger among students was a problem in the past.
"Kids are always hungry, aren't they?" he said.
"What I will say is that being hungry is a barrier to learning. The nature of being a teenager is that you are always hungry, but for whatever reason, for some it is a barrier and they aren't able to access sufficient food ..."
"It takes away inequalities."
Waiopehu College principal Mark Robinson said they had opted to employ an in-house provider with catering staff and were looking forward to having a new operational kitchen space soon.
Students all ate together from the same menu.
"In terms of intent it provides equality. Every young person can come to school and have lunch and not be embarrassed about not having lunch," he said.
"It's now a non-issue."
There were stations situated around the school that had fresh fruit and other foods should a student feel hungry at any time during a break in between mealtimes.
Manawatū College principal Mark Fraser described the new initiative as "ground-breaking".
Fraser said there was a definite need among some of the students and in just a few weeks he had already seen it have a positive impact on the school.
"It still in the early days of the roll out but there is nothing negative about it," he said.
Not every meal provided was consumed entirely and each school was managing its waste and ensuring that any leftover meals were either offered to students that might still be hungry or passed on to charity.
But while the programme was designed to end inequality, not all schools made the cut. The fully-funded programme was also rolled out to hand-picked primary schools in the region only.
One provider had estimated each lunch meal to cost $7. For a family with four school-aged children, that represented an investment of $140 a week, which could now be looked on as a saving for those that had previously provided their children with lunch.
All urban schools with the exception of Fairfield School were given a free lunch, while none of the rural schools - Koputaroa, Poroutawhao and Ōhau Primary School - made the cut either.
Ministry of Education has said the decision on which school had a free lunch had nothing to do with decile ratings.
Schools and kura were identified for inclusion in the programme through a combination of data from the ministry's equity index, as well as taking feedback from ministry staff following school visits.
A school's decile was not used as a measure of need and they were unable to invite themselves to participate either.
The list of schools in the area chosen were: Coley Street School, Foxton Beach School, Foxton School, Horowhenua College, Levin East School, Levin Intermediate, Levin North School, Levin School, Manawatū College, Shannon School, St Joseph's School, St Mary's School, Taitoko School and Waiopehu College.
Levin Intermediate, Foxton Primary, Shannon and Waiopehu College had elected to do their meals in house, while others had opted to source the food through supplied contractor Libelle.