Oranges, apples and even plums are becoming just as important to some Bay of Plenty classrooms as a pen and paper.

More than 11,000 Bay of Plenty children at low-decile primary and intermediate schools have been reaping the benefits of fresh fruit and veg in the classroom.

Now the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust is calling for the initiative to be expanded even further and rolled out to every decile three school in the country.

Forty-five schools in the Bay region and 26 schools in the Lakes District currently benefit from the produce daily.


Government funding for the Fruit in Schools contract was due to roll over next year, with some local principals putting their support behind the trust to roll it out further.

Kea St Specialist School principal Sherie Collins said the initiative had benefited the students massively.

As a low-decile school, she said some children would come to school hungry and fruit was an expensive thing for some families.

Having the fruit meant the children could have it as a snack or a lunchbox filler and the staff knew they were doing something good for that child, she said.

The school had managed to utilise the fruit for learning purposes by using leftover apples to cook things like crumble and muffins in class.

Collins said it was something that every child in the country had a right to benefit from.

More than 24 million servings were handed out every year at 550 different schools nationwide.

The Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative was funded by the Ministry of Health, run by United Fresh and supported by The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust.


Project manager of The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust Carmel Ireland said the trust had seen so much value in the initiative and want to see it rolled out in every decile three school in the country.

She said the more kids that have access to the fresh fruit and veg, the better.

The trust was aiming to meet "need and equity" and the programme was designed to make sure every child had equal opportunity for a healthy lifestyle, she said.

Malfroy School principal Nicky Brell said the free fruit and veg had worked wonders for the children's lifestyles.

Some children did come to school hungry and it was vital that they could be in a position to provide them with a healthy lunch and breakfast, he said.

He said the health and wellbeing of the children was only going to get better if the initiative continued.

Medical officer of health at Toi Te Ora Dr Phil Shoemack said the scheme exposed children to high-quality fruit that not all families had access to.

He said attentiveness and engagement were things that often peaked with good nutrition and exercise, which was vital for the classroom.

Many people forgot the influence children had on household decisions and getting them into their healthy fruit and veg could often permeate into the home, he said.

Fruit provided children with vitamins and adequate fibre, and eating something such as an orange was far more beneficial than full strength juice or fizzy drink, he said.