ACT says Ministry of Education discouraging New Zealand schoolchildren from eating their own lunch

ACT says Ministry of Education discouraging New Zealand schoolchildren from eating their own lunch
Photo credit: Newshub

The ACT Party claims advice from the Ministry of Education around healthy school lunches proves Kiwi kids who bring their own food to school are being discouraged from eating it.

"After it was revealed this week thousands of lunches are going to waste, the Ministry now wants to stop children from eating their own lunches," ACT leader David Seymour says.

The Ka Ora, Ka Ako - healthy school lunches programme aims to reduce food insecurity by providing access to a nutritious lunch for students at certain schools across the country with high levels of need.

Advice from the Ministry of Education from March suggests schools could try to ensure children are getting the most from their lunches by creating a time of around 15 minutes for their provided lunch, "while food from home stays in students' bags".

Seymour claims this treatment "punishes" schoolchildren and their parents who have taken "personal responsibility" for providing their own lunch each day.

"It's just mean to leave kids sitting there at lunchtime waiting to eat their own food," Seymour adds. 

Seymour states that not all students needed their lunches given to them by the government. 

"Why should kids whose parents can afford to provide lunch and have gone to the trouble of making it have to sit and wait while other kids eat in front of them?"

The Ministry also suggests that schools should choose a time for lunch that will give staff and students the most opportunity to benefit and claimed healthy food tastes better if you are hungry.

Seymour asks if this means teachers are supposed to get students to the point they were starving so they would want to eat the provided lunches. 

The advice also suggests schools should encourage students to try new foods and then praise them for doing so. 

"It can take between five and 15 exposures of trying something new to learn to like a food," the Ministry claims.  

Seymour says "children aren't stupid" and claims "they either like something or they don't".

"If these lunches are so terrible that kids have to try them 15 times, there's probably a problem with what's in them."

Seymour claims "some real work" is needed to see how many lunches are going to waste and find the reason why.

On March 13, it was revealed a provider of free school lunches had to apologise to a Northland primary school for serving up cold meals two hours late.