Free school lunches 'screamingly obvious' choice - Children's Commissioner

The Children's Commissioner says providing all children in New Zealand with at least one free meal a day should be "a birthright" - but Jacinda Arden won't commit to making it happen.

Andrew Becroft said on Monday he's "totally in support" of providing free lunch to schoolchildren, after The AM Show launched its campaign to ensure every child in a New Zealand state school is entitled to a healthy, free lunch.

The campaign, launched on Monday,  is part of The AM Show's 'Big Picture' series.

Becroft says he backs the campaign 100 percent. 

"I dream of a New Zealand where it's the birthright of every child that the country provides free school lunch - other countries do it, why shouldn't we?" he said.

"The benefits are incalculable."

The Government provides free lunches to 25 percent of Aotearoa's schools with its Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme which focuses on the lowest decile schools across the country.

However Ardern said on Monday there is no plan as of yet to extend that out to all schools, saying it already costs "hundreds of millions" to feed the children it is feeding.

"I don't have a problem with unlimited lunches. I think that would be great... But I have to prioritise, and it is quite costly to roll out and I have to ask the question 'is that the next step for us?'"

Becroft says New Zealand's commitment to providing for the elderly with things like the winter energy payment shows the country could be world leading.

"Why can't a country like New Zealand demonstrate a world leading commitment to children? We could do it - but we haven't shown the will to do it - and I wish we would."

He says spending now would have hue benefits further down the track.

"Spend the money because children would benefit, the country would benefit long term - it's the thing to do."