Ka Ora, Ka Ako aims to reduce food insecurity by providing access to a nutritious lunch every day. The name Ka Ora, Ka Ako is about being healthy and well in order to be in a good place to learn.
Research indicates that reducing food insecurity for children and young people:
- Improves wellbeing
- Supports child development and learning
- Improves learners’ levels of concentration, behaviour and school achievement
- Reduces financial hardship amongst families and whānau
- Addresses barriers to children’s participation in education and promotes attendance at school
- Boosts learners’ overall health.
In 2019, the Government announced a two-year initiative to explore delivering a free and healthy daily school lunch to Year 1–8 (primary and intermediate aged) students in schools with high levels of disadvantage.
Around 10,000 learners in 42 schools across Bay of Plenty/Waiariki and Hawke’s Bay/Tairāwhiti were the first to get a free school lunch in Term 1 2020. Over 3,000 students in 18 schools and kura across Otago and Southland joined Ka Ora, Ka Ako in Terms 2 and 3. Another 51 schools in Bay of Plenty/Waiariki and Hawke’s Bay/Tairāwhiti began delivering lunches in Term 4 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ka Ora, Ka Ako is being expanded to reach around 215,000 students by the end of 2021, including secondary students. This aims to cushion the blow of COVID-19 impacts on students living in households which may now be experiencing heightened financial stress, job and income losses that can interfere with learning and wellbeing.
Expanding the programme is also expected to support job creation and economic recovery from the pandemic. Some 942 jobs have already been generated and it is estimated that around 2,000 jobs will be created by the end of 2021.