Time for Associate Minister of Education to reveal his school lunches magic trick

Mr Seymour says he will achieve the same results of Ka Ora, Ka Ako with less funding – and now with fewer staff.

It’s time for him to explain how he will do this, what the consequences will be and what evidence he has that these changes will achieve the same results. 

The 235,000 students, the hundreds of teachers and principals who see the difference healthy lunches make, the dedicated people working to deliver the programme every day, and New Zealand voters have a right to know what the Government’s plan for the healthy school lunches programme is.

Cuts to the Ministry of Education team responsible for Healthy School Lunches in our most disadvantaged schools will put the viability of the programme and the health, wellbeing and educational success of a quarter of New Zealand students at risk.

The dedicated Ministry staff facing redundancy provide vital structural support for a programme that has proven benefits. Evidence from Ministry evaluations and independent reports show it reduces hunger, improves nutrition, contributes to better health outcomes, and reduces financial hardship and barriers to educational achievement.

These cuts will make it extremely difficult to ensure the required food safety, contracts oversight, monitoring, quality improvements and waste management that have made the programme so successful, HCA co-chair Professor Boyd Swinburn said.

“It’s pretty clear these staff cuts are part one of a two-part plan by the Government to knee-cap the programme.”

Associate Education Minister David Seymour announced Ka Ora, Ka Ako was under review in March, and then confirmed he was looking to make savings of 30-50 per cent – based on an outdated assessment by Treasury in June, 2023.

The proposed cuts will leave many students hungry, increase financial hardship of whānau, and increase barriers to educational achievement.

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