Free school lunches is common sense for kids - Tracey Martin

Ryan Bridge 29/08/2019

Minister For Children Tracey Martin told Magic Talk Drive that providing free school lunches for children is "common sense" for improving children's lives.

The Minister spoke with host Ryan Bridge following the Government announcement of a free daily lunch trial to be rolled out at select schools next year.

The trial - which will provide free lunches to Year 1-8 children every school day - will begin in 30 schools from term one next year before expanding to 120 schools in 2021. When the policy is fully rolled out, 21,000 children will benefit.

Ryan begins the interview commenting that this proposal is a "no-brainer" for the Minister, which she agrees with saying "Government has been talking about this for a long time."

It makes sense, this is common sense for the kids.

Ryan then asks if this is so obvious why start with a trial in that case, will the Government rescind the lunches if academic performance does not improve?

Minister Martin responds "it's not just about academic achievements" she explains that the approach they are taking allows for measuring how successful the trial is and how to best roll out for the country.

When asked if time, and funds, would be better spent identifying those children lacking lunches and going directly to their homes to address the issues the Minister clarified the strategy.

She explained that this is "not the only thing going on" that there are 74 other actions intended to improve children's lives as part of the strategy announced today.

This is not a silver bullet, but it recognises children who are going hungry.

Ryan questions whether this might signal to parents that the Government will cover costs if they should decide not to pay for these things for their children and is that an expectation that they want?

Tracey disagrees saying, "New Zealanders expect we look after each other, not ignore children who are wanting."

We don't want to see children going hungry.

Finally the Minister tells Ryan that this trial is set to test what is the best way for schools to be providing these lunches and how to effectively roll out for the entire country.