Release: School lunches on the line this election

Free and healthy school lunches will be here to stay if Labour is re-elected, guaranteeing food for our kids who need it most and significant cost saving for parents.

“Labour will commit $650 million to continue the programme at nearly 1000 schools and kura through the next term of Government,” Labour Leader Chris Hipkins announced today.

“This is a programme we are incredibly proud of, and parents, principals, and teachers are all agreed on the benefits of kids learning on full tummies. Principals I meet with tell me this is a gamechanger for supporting kids’ wellbeing, attendance, and focus.

“Committing funding for free and healthy school lunches out to next term will give families and schools certainty that the programme is here to stay.

“We know that it’s tough for many families right now with the rising cost of living, which is why we’re prioritising programmes like free and healthy school lunches which save families $33 per week per child, or up to $1,250 per year per child on average.

“Labour has supported 25% of schools to give all their kids a healthy lunch every school day since 2020. These are the schools that face the largest socio-economic barriers to achieving in education – we know that if the programme wasn’t in place there would be many children who would go without.

“With the gaping hole in nationals tax plan, I am concerned that free and healthy school lunches will be on the chopping block to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

“ACT has already committed to scrapping the programme and could hold National to ransom on it – which would only leave parents having to find that extra $33 per child, per week.

“Equally, parents and schools have a right to know what a lunch under the National Party will look like. Will it be a piece of white bread and a glass of milk, or will they commit to continuing to feed kids healthy and nutritious lunches? Will parents suddenly have to opt-in, adding a stigma to the programme that could see many children go without?

“The National Party have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted to fund education. Until they’re up front with New Zealanders and actually answer some questions about how they’ll pay for their tax cuts, New Zealanders have no reason to trust them – and our kids will be the ones to pay the price,” Chris Hipkins said.

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