Schoolkids in New Zealand will be given free lunches every day to prevent young people from going hungry.
By 2020, around 5,000 students across 30 schools will be fed. The reach will grow to give free lunches to as many as 21,000 kids across 120 schools in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement during a visit to Kaitao Intermediate School in Rotorua.
“Do we want our kids to go hungry?” She Ardern asked.
“The obvious answer is no. That’s why the Government is rolling this school lunch programme out to the kids in New Zealand who need our support the most.”
The program is one of the 75 initiatives of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy to eliminate child poverty while providing better support services.
Ms. Ardern added: “Reducing child poverty is a key goal of this Government and the $5.5 billion families package and initiatives in the wellbeing budget will raise 50,000-74,000 children out of poverty.”
She said that kids were interviewed during the consultation stage of the new program. The NZ leader revealed a large number admitted an empty stomach was a hindrance to learning.
“That was heart-breaking to hear and this prototype starts to ensure children are fed and have the best chance to succeed,” she expressed.
“You simply can’t learn distracted by an empty stomach.
“Many families in New Zealand struggle to provide enough food for their children. A healthy lunch every day will help to alleviate one of the worst aspects of deprivation for kids hunger.”
But National education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said that she believed the program was poorly designed, saying many schools were not equipped with big kitchens for carrying out food preparations.
“If this is the beginning of a universal free lunch programme for all schools, this would cost hundreds of millions and take away the autonomy of parents to provide lunch for their children,” she added.
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