I'm stunned at how vitriolic people can be when it comes to the topic of food in schools.
As far as the majority of talkback callers are concerned, hungry kids are the product of useless, chain-smoking, drug-taking alcoholic parents who are too busy shovelling coins into pokie machines to take care of their children.
Have they never been poor? Have they never been desperate? I'm sure there are some complete and utter no-hopers but I am equally certain there are parents out there, working their fingers to the bone to survive but not getting enough money into the house to look after their children the way they'd like to.
I can remember my mum taking a huge packet of sandwiches to school when she was a teacher, to give to kids who came to school hungry — so this is not a new problem.
There have been discussions around food in schools programmes for years. The National government partnered with Sanitarium and Fonterra in getting the KickStart Breakfast clubs into as many schools as they could and also contributed towards KidsCan, the charity that delivers lunches, snacks, raincoats and shoes to children in need.
New Zealand is one of the few developed nations that doesn't offer a universal lunch programme for children.
So I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement that a free school lunch programme is to be trialled — initially in 30 schools in Rotorua and Hawke's Bay and later rolled out to 120 schools.
The Prime Minister was a little hazy on the details — no surprises there. I have found the lack of detail, the inability to produce a road map on how she will deliver the kind of New Zealand she wants to see, incredibly frustrating. Great ideas but everyone has those.
What we need is someone who can put the great ideas into action. She said she wanted to let the schools and communities decide for themselves how best to deliver lunches to the children which seemed a bit woolly to me.
Surely given the numbers of countries delivering school lunches every day there'd be a wealth of research that would indicate the best and most cost-effective way to deliver a nutritious meal to kids around the country.
However, I spoke to a number of people involved in feeding kids at the local schools so perhaps a localised approach will, in fact, work.
One of them was Annie, who lives in Kapiti, whose children's school is part of the KickStart programme. There's a need there, she says, because rents are going up all the time, and many families are doing it tough.
The way it works at her school is that the breakfast club is there for kids who can get to school before class but she says a lot of the children living in hardship are the kids who turn up late, after the breakfast club is over. So breakfast packs are supplied to all kids who turn up to school after the bell.
Annie's also involved in helping prepare about 150 sandwiches a week with bread and fillings supplied by local supermarkets and St Vincent de Paul. She says she does it because she grew up poor and now she's not and she likes to give back, but she says her kids benefit too because they don't have hungry classmates.
So all good at this particular school but will all schools be able to deliver the same value to their children?
It's the haphazard approach that has me concerned. Still, it's a trial programme. If it's not working as well as it should in these 30 schools, it can be tweaked before it's rolled out. And at least it's a good start to addressing the very real day-to-day hardship faced by 10 per cent of our kids born into chronically disadvantaged families.
Blame the parents all you like. But it takes a village to raise a child and if the parents are failing their kids, for whatever reason, then surely we have an obligation to step in.