An extra 13,000 students will receive free fruit next year, after the Government decided not to remove the programme from some poorer schools.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Fruit in Schools programme will be expanded to include an extra 77 schools next year, bringing the total number of schools involved to 557.

The cost would shift from $6.6 million to $7.8 million, Dr Coleman said.

"Healthy eating helps fuel the body and the brain, that's why the Fruit in Schools programme is so beneficial to students," he said.


"Fruit in Schools complements the Childhood Obesity Plan. New Zealand is one of the first OECD countries to have a target and a comprehensive plan to tackle childhood obesity."

The extra funding follows a change in school decile ratings this year. Deciles are a measure of the socio-economic position of a school's student community relative to other schools throughout the country.

For example, decile 1 schools are the 10 per cent of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities, whereas decile 10 schools are the 10 per cent of schools with the lowest proportion of these students.

Following the Census, schools' decile ratings were updated to reflect any changes within the community.

Because Fruit in Schools is allocated by decile to decile 1 and 2 schools if the health minister had not intervened, those that moved from a 2 to 3 could have been cut from the programme. Instead, it will now apply to those that shifted down to decile 2, and up to decile 3.

It is expected that the new schools will start receiving fruit from the beginning of the second term of 2016.

The Fruit in Schools programme began in 2006 after a review found only 40 per cent of children ate two pieces of fruit a day.

The scheme was designed to run for three years but it was expanded after research showed that children were more active, better behaved and had improved oral health through eating fruit.


Schools receive high-quality seasonal fruit and vegetables, and they sample up to 33 different types of fruit or vegetable during the year.

An external evaluation of the programme undertaken on behalf of 5+ A Day Charitable Trust showed good results. Schools reported improved dental outcomes, a reduction in general sores, an increase in overall healthy eating behaviours and an increase in student concentration.

Records showed that the largest proportion of high-needs schools were in Counties Manukau (67 schools) and Northland (63 schools).