Thousands more students around the country have started the school year with a regular lunch on the menu, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced in Tauranga today.
Visiting Welcome Bay School this morning, Hipkins said an additional 88,000 students in 322 schools nationwide would join 42,000 students already receiving weekday lunches under the Government's Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches programme.
The programme launched last year to help tackle child poverty, improve youth wellbeing and learning and boost local economies.
"The start of the school year can be an expensive time for families with a lot of additional costs," Hipkins said.
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"Providing a daily nutritious lunch is one way we can help ease pressure on the household budget and ensure our tamariki don't miss out on learning because they're hungry."
The expansion is part of the Government's Covid-19 response.
"Growing the programme now further supports families to meet their living costs, and provides an economic boost throughout the whole community, employing local people and spending in local economies," Hipkins said.
"School lunches impact the whole supply chain, from local growers, to delivery drivers, to the local businesses and community organisations that are preparing lunches and supplying schools.
"Over 942 jobs have already been generated by the programme and it is estimated that around 2000 jobs will be created by the end of 2021," he said.