Don't tell the kids at Kimi Ora school in Flaxmere there's no such thing as a free lunch.
A Government trial programme, announced last year, is set to provide free and healthy school lunches to about 30 schools in Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty.
Kimi Ora Community School jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first.
The school had already been providing lunches for its pupils the past three years at $1 a day but can now provide the food for free.
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The school has 135 children all of whom get lunch and morning tea provided daily.
Morning tea is fruit and vegetable platters with hummus for dipping. Lunch changes every day.
The programme began this term and is being trialled for two years at schools recognised as having a high level of disadvantage.
By 2021 21,000 students in about 120 schools will be eligible for a free lunch, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in August.
Kimi Ora Community School principal Matt O'Dowda said the $1 lunches were a big hit and now families did not have to be charged it was even better.
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"Prior to three years ago, kids were coming to school hungry, or they'd just come with one bag of chips or biscuits for the day," O'Dowda said.
"It's never a 5-year-old's fault they don't have food.
"So, what do we do, do we blame them and let them go hungry? Or do we do something to help," O'Dowda said.
Having Government funding for free lunches has helped, as families can now save $5 a week per child and are ensured a meal every day.
"Some days kids wouldn't be able to bring a dollar for lunch so it's great it is free now," he said.
O'Dowda thinks the programme not only helps children, but families too.
"The kids and whānau love it. It takes a lot of stress away from the whānau," O'Dowda said.
"Our whānau have enough to be stressed about in our area with the likes of the housing shortage. They don't need to be stressed about lunches too," O'Dowda said.
The funding is provided per term by the Government, then the school organises the meals.
O'Dowda said the school had seen a clear difference in the children.
"There's a massive impact if they go hungry.
"Being hungry hinders their learning but it's also embarrassing for both the children and the whānau."
The lunches would help tackle New Zealand's obesity epidemic by providing healthy food for children, he said.
The school also runs cooking and nutrition classes which, alongside the free lunches, have helped pupils and families understand healthy eating.
"They used to pick out every colourful bit of vegetable from the food, now they love it," O'Dowda said.
The August 2019 announcement said a decision about continuing the programme would be made after the two-year trial.
The Ministry of Education said it would not comment about how the trial was going, as it would make an announcement at the end of February.