New Zealand schools don’t have a universal concept of school food. That means pupils have to bring their own lunchboxes, usually prepared for them by their parents. If they bring one. Actually, many children attending a decile 1 school, a school in the weakest socio-economic area, don’t bring any lunch to school. Every Kid attending a decile 10 school in comparison brings their lunch to school every day and even a healthy one.
School in New Zealand usually starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 3 or 3.30 p.m. Can you imagine what it would be like not to eat anything during that whole time? Sometimes even without breakfast before that?! I can’t and no one should!
There are many discussions why so many New Zealand pupils’ grades are below the standard expectations, why they have so bad results and what can be done to improve it. Mostly they find those with bad results to be children from rather poor families. As we saw in the decile 1 vs decile 10 schools experiment also the Kids from poorer families are disadvantaged. Why? Simply because their parents often neither have time to make them lunch nor money to give their Kids so they can buy something at the canteen (if the school has one).
So if the government wants to help these Kids and improve their accoplishments at school, they have to start with the very basics like making sure every pupil gets enough and healthy food at school. Only like this the children can be able to fully concentrate on their studies.
In 2007, the government banned unhealthy food from school canteens but in 2008 there was a change of government and they removed those restrictions. There are even principals who prefer it that way. They said they wouldn’t want the government to dictate what they could sell in the canteen. One Principal actually said that the pupils would find a way around it and the best thing schools can do is give them lessons in healthy nutrition and let them make the choice.
Well I don’t think so. Many children would always buy a bag of chips rather than some vegetables no matter what they learned about it. And now think of those Kid’s who haven’t eaten anything all day. Do you really think they’d care about what they eat if they finally get something? Probably not.
John Key didn’t think it was necessary to make sure every Kid in school get’s something to eat since, in his opinion, there was only a little number of pupils who don’t have any lunch. The ‘feed the Kids bill’ was voted down by the government.
I think (healthy) food is one of the very basics you need to be able to concentrate and study properly at school. Not eating enough is also linked to development delays, more frequent illness and more things negatively effecting your health. So no matter how many Kids do or don’t bring any lunch, they all should have equal chances and get a healthy lunch at school. If the government wants to minimalize inequaltity at school this is where to start!