Food in Schools Top Priority Say Principals

7 March 2024

Minister Seymour’s latest comments to scrap or severely limit the Food in Schools programme has upset school Principals across the country. The Minister claims that there is wastage of food, it is inefficient and not required in many cases.ㅤ

“The Minister’s comments are well off track,” said Leanne Otene, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF). ㅤ

“Food in schools was introduced by the last Government after hundreds of schools had already been providing breakfast and lunches in their schools for years,” she said. “That’s because we had hundreds of families in poverty who could not provide food for their children,” she said.ㅤ

“Poverty has not been cured, and the latest statistics tell us it has got worse,” said Otene.ㅤ

As the Food in Schools Programme has rolled out across the country, schools and their providers have worked together to reduce any wastage by matching the number of lunches needed to the school’s actual requirements. ㅤ

“We do everything possible to eliminate wastage and keep the programme efficient,” said Otene. ㅤ

“It is illogical to think that by withdrawing food in schools, more starving children will somehow lift their achievement to reach the learning targets the Government expects,” said Otene.ㅤ

Schools will always attend to food deprived children in their schools by providing for them, as they have done for years. It stands to reason that children don’t learn when all they can think about is hunger.ㅤ

“What was great about the Food in Schools Programme, was that teachers no longer had to devote so much time to buying or acquiring food, preparing it, and distributing it. This was time they could have spent on lesson planning and teaching,” said Otene. ㅤ

“We don’t want to go back to using precious teaching time making lunches,” said Otene. “We want our teachers focused on the job they are trained to do and that’s teaching, not cooking lunches.”

EDIT: Health Coalition Aotearoa have now launched the petition calling on the Government NOT to cut the free school lunches programme – Ka Ora, Ka Ako. 

This can be found here.

They have an ambition to get as close to 100,000 signatures as possible, so please take the time to add your support and feel free to add this to your communications.ㅤ


For further commentary contact Leanne Otene, NZPF President

Mobile: 027 434 6118


For more information contact Liz Hawes, Communications Manager, NZ Principals Federation


Tel: +64 (0)4 471 2338, 

Mobile: +64 (0)21 847780ㅤ